How will Graduation Requirements Affect Urban Children?


This fall, as a parent of two seniors, I felt relieved. They had met all the guidelines set out by the state for high school graduation. I only took a short rest because I have a fifth grader and it seems like I have to learn about what he will need to complete for graduation in 2025.

The Indiana graduation Pathway Committee has proposed changes to graduation requirements starting with the class of 2023 which includes completing one of the following prior to graduation:

  • Learn and demonstrate employability skills (to meet this requirement a student could work a part time job or complete volunteer hours in the community)

  • Complete the SAT/ ACT at college ready benchmarks

  • Earn a technical certificate

  • Earn at least three college credits (this can completed through AP or IP courses)

I love the idea of getting our youth ready for life after high school. My twins are set to graduate in spring of 2018 and have completed three of the four requirements included for future graduates. It is my goal as a parent to prepare my children for life after high school whether that is college or the workforce. These past fours years have not been easy getting them to and from work, SAT prep courses, SAT/ACT testing , extracurricular activities, volunteer projects and so much more!! Sometimes, I didn't know if I was coming or going. Luckily for me, I have a few good friends and family who were willing to help along with some flexibility in my job.

As much as I like the idea of the proposed changes, I am also concerned about our schools and students who are already struggling academically and not receiving the support needed to meet the current graduation requirements. My concern is that these requirements can become barriers to the youth in our urban communities instead of tools to success.


Many students will need assistance with reliable transportation to and from a job or volunteer project. Many families in our poorest communities struggle with transportation and this could be a barrier for some students. Being a parent of two teenagers who work a part-time job I know all too well the struggle of getting teenagers to and from work.


Statistically, Africans Americans don't meet the college level benchmark. The SAT/ACT preparation courses also come at cost that many families just can't afford.  I learned with my oldest that students should test early and test often. The cost of the SAT could pose a burden to many families. Although there are SAT/ACT waivers available, from my experience many families are unaware they qualify for those waivers and don’t know how to obtain them for their children to test more than once.  Early education to families about SAT/ACT waivers and getting children in these communities testing sooner and providing test preparation would be huge in achieving the goal set out for this graduation requirement.

AP and IB Courses

Many of our urban schools just don't offer these courses.  Another problem is some teachers who would like to teach these course in urban schools don’t have the funds or the school cannot provide the funds for the teacher to become certified to teach these specialized courses.

While we think about preparing our children for the world, let’s also remember with increased requirements our struggling communities will need increased support.



Cheryl Kirk

Mrs. Kirk is a married mother of three children, 16-year-old twins and a 9 year-old son, who all currently attend private school on a voucher. She is a Gary, Indiana native but has lived in Indianapolis for many years. While trying to provide a quality education for her children she met many obstacles and became determined to access the best education for her children. Cheryl is a licensed practical nurse and has worked in home care, hospice, long-term care, and is currently the clinical director for an assisted living facility.