Computer Science Bill Passes Committee Unanimously

Bill # and Title: SB 172 – Computer Science Curriculum
Author: Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond)
Summary: Establishes the Next Level Computer Science Grant Program and the Next Level Computer Science Fund to award grants, after June 30, 2019, to eligible entities to implement teacher professional development programs for training in teaching computer science. Requires the Department of Education to: (1) administer the program and fund; and (2) develop guidelines to award grants from the fund to eligible entities. Requires (beginning July 1, 2021) each public school, including a charter school, to offer a computer science course as a one semester elective course in its curriculum at least once each school year to high school students. Requires (beginning July 1, 2021) each public school, including a charter school, to include computer science in the public school’s curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 12. Provides that the state board may approve a local graduation pathway. Establishes the local graduation pathway fund (fund). Provides that the state board may award development grants from the fund for proposed local graduation pathways.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: The House Education Committee heard this bill on Tuesday and amended in language regarding locally developed graduation pathways and an accompanying fund. It passed out of committee 12-0 and is recommitted to the House Ways and Means Committee where we anticipate it will have a hearing next week.

Update/Chamber Action: Senate Bill 172 aligns with an Indiana Chamber top priority to have all K-12 schools offer computer science courses. We are hearing from an increasing number of employers that they need more employees with experience in STEM or computer science. These courses provide not only incredible knowledge in high-demand, high-wage fields, but also provide critical thinking and soft skills that are so important to employers.

With the growing number of tech companies moving to Indiana, as well as the notion that almost every company these days is a tech company of some sort, it is more important than ever that Hoosier students have the availability of computer science courses in all K-12 schools across Indiana. (Ultimately, the Chamber would like to see computer science as a graduation requirement.)

In addition, we testified in support of the teacher professional development fund to be created. All are in step with our Indiana Vision 2025 goals to help skill up the state’s future workforce. We also support the language adding the locally-developed graduation pathways and fund, as it will allow for local employer needs to be met through these developed pathways.

High School Diploma and Graduation Pathways Legislation Moving

Bill # and Title: HB 1426 – Education Matters
Author: Rep. Bob Behning (R-Plainfield)
Summary: Urges the Legislative Council during the 2018 through 2020 interims to assign to the Interim Study Committee on Education the task of studying issues relating to a school corporation’s ability to provide adequate career counseling to students. Requires the State Board of Education to establish one Indiana diploma for individuals who successfully complete high school graduation requirements. Provides that each Indiana diploma must include one of the following designations: (1) General designation. (2) Core 40 designation. (3) Core 40 with academic honors designation. (4) Core 40 with technical honors designation. Requires, in adopting Core 40 curriculum models, the State Board to consider math course requirements other than Algebra II. Provides that a nationally recognized college entrance exam shall be administered as part of the statewide assessment program for high school students. Eliminates the requirement of end-of-course assessments to be administered as part of the statewide assessment program.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Passed the Senate Education Committee 9-0; awaits action by the full Senate.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber supports a single diploma model, as long as it is rigorous and starts at the Core 40 level with an opt-out to the general diploma. We also strongly support conforming changes to reflect the work of the Graduation Pathways Taskforce recommendation passed by the State Board of Education last fall. (The Chamber was a representative on the Graduation Pathways Taskforce in 2017.) Lastly, we appreciate the General Assembly working with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the state diploma will be compliant with federal regulations while maintaining rigor. We also support studying career counseling in the future, as a goal stated in our Indiana Chamber Foundation study in 2014.

Employability Skills and Work Ethic Certificate Legislation Moves Ahead

Bill # and Title:
SB 297 – Employability Skills Curriculum
Author: Sen. Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond)
Summary: Provides that, not later than July 1, 2019, each school within a school corporation shall include interdisciplinary employability skills standards established by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), in consultation with the Department of Education and approved by the State Board of Education, in the school’s curriculum. Establishes the Work Ethic Certificate program. Requires the DWD to administer the program. Expands the Indiana Career Explorer pilot program.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: The bill was amended to remove the fund language, which would require the bill to be recommitted to Ways and Means. Subsequently, the bill passed the House Education Committee 12-0; with no amendments added on second reading, it’s now eligible for a final House floor vote as early as Monday.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber is supportive of the creation of employability skills standards, as we hear from employers every day about the need for student graduates with stronger soft skills. In addition, the Chamber is very supportive of the Governor’s successful Work Ethic Certificate program and we welcome it to be codified into law with the hopes that funding can be secured during the 2019 session. We are OK with removing the fund language, as it was only to establish a location for potential budgetary funding in 2019.

Resource: Caryl Auslander at (317) 264-6880 or email: [email protected]