Having more students earn honors diplomas was the focal point of an update by Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Chris Himsel during a Jan. 25 meeting of the NACS Board of School Trustees.
“Our goals are basically to maintain our graduation rates and increase the number of students earning an honors diploma while decreasing the number of students earning a general diploma,” Himsel said.
Because of collective work completed since 2010 on behalf of the school corporation, 123 more students earned an honors or Core 40 diploma in 2020. Out of 575 members of the class of 2020, 566 (98.4%) graduated, and 536 of those individuals walked away with either an honors or Core 40 diploma. It was the second highest graduation rate in Carroll High School’s history with the highest percentage of any class to earn collective honors or Core 40 diplomas.
“Unlike test scores that compare kids to other kids, these are the goals that every child can attain, and we’re trying to help every kid attain those goals within the passions and the interests that they have,” Himsel said.
He noted that only nine students in last year’s class did not walk at graduation. However, seven of those nine are still working toward earning a diploma.
“The group of kids makes a difference — I’m not going to lie,” he said. “The last time we had 98.8 (percent), which was our highest year, was an exceptional group of kids that only had six kids not walk across the stage at the end of the year. And this was one of those exceptional groups of kids.”
In 2010, 23.8% of graduates earned a general diploma, while in 2015 that number declined to 9.7%. Between those five years, graduates earning an honors diploma jumped from 28.7% to 42.9%.
“They open the most doors,” Himsel said of honors diplomas. “A general diploma, on the other hand, has a lot of restrictions, and is pretty much limited to the military or some type of associate’s type degree … and usually requires some type of remediation. The Core 40 is an either/or. The vast majority of our Core 40 people do get accepted into a 4-year college. They do have options, but it is also more likely that they have to encounter some remediation unlike what they would with an academic honors type of diploma.”
Himsel also noted the class of 2020 was affected by school buildings being closed from mid-March until the end of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, no students dropped out of school during that period of time, as some other Indiana districts saw.