IN Graduation Pathways


Isabella Ambrose, Writer/Designer

For the last few years, Homestead High School students have been required to complete Graduation Pathways, a module implemented by Indiana’s Board of Education. Fifth-period teachers are designated a few minutes from their class for students to complete these modules. During this time, students completed an assortment of personality tests, reflected on their strengths and weaknesses and took time to contemplate their goals for the future. 

Flora Jones, Indiana Department of Education Director of Student Pathways & Opportunities, and Elise Locke, Assistant Director of Student Pathways, addressed the purpose of Graduation Pathways, its goals and how it affects students. Graduation Pathways seeks to answer one simple question: how are students being prepared for life after high school in school? Jones stated that the goal of Graduation Pathways is to “offer students opportunities to explore, engage, and experience… opportunities and their strengths.” Jones stressed that in the past, school was not personalized enough for students. 

“No one had ever given me the inventory to align with my interests,” Jones said. “I went to college… and after my first year I changed my major.” Jones felt that if she “had these opportunities and experiences that students will have now with Graduation Pathways, I would have known this is where I want to be.” Elise Locke elaborated on this, saying that  “one test wasn’t meeting the needs of all the students.” Students needed more ways to be able to express themselves at school that helped them better prepare themselves for the future. 

Graduation Pathways is all about “changing the way students do school” because it encourages taking courses that are of interest to the student. One of the main goals of Graduation Pathways is to “eliminate summer melt,” as Jones called it. Jones described summer melt as the period of time after high school and before college where students fall behind on their goals. Graduation Pathways aims to give students a better understanding of what they want to do after high school and to keep students focused on their goals. 

But how exactly does Graduation Pathways prepare students for the future? Jones said that graduation pathways consists of three “buckets” or categories: diploma designations, employability skills and postsecondary-ready competencies. 

Diploma designations include graduation requirements in high school and the Core 40, Academic Honors, Technical Honors or General Diploma. Employability skills help prepare students for future employment opportunities. These include project-based, service-based and work-based learning skills. Postsecondary-ready competencies include the SAT, ACT and honors diploma. Additional information about each of these buckets can be found on the IDOE website. 

Graduation Pathways is also being implemented on a middle school level. In middle school, Jones said that the goal of Graduation Pathways is to “engage [students] in activities that align with their values, their strengths, their interests.”

Summed up, Graduation Pathways aims to “give students the opportunity to have a high wage, high demand job whether that’s through enrollment, employment or enlistment leading to service.”

Despite Graduation Pathways’ goals, some students still feel that Graduation Pathways does not have a large impact on their life after highschool. Catherine Bilodeau, a class of 2022 graduate, said that “Graduation Pathways did not help me discover any new interests or talents.” She stated that she was already interested in STEM-related fields before partaking in Graduation Pathways, and she recalled “little to no tools that pushed [her] to further explore” her options after high school. 

“I already knew far in advance that my path to after high school was to attend a university. Graduation Pathways did not sway my decision,” Bilodeau said. However, Graduation Pathways still aims to encourage students to look beyond high school graduation and prepare for their future.