More earning honors diplomas

As early as middle school, local students are given the opportunity to take high-school level courses in foreign language or math, and more teens are taking that chance.

More Johnson County students are signing up for upper-level courses, which has allowed them to earn more Honors and Core 40 diplomas, which both require additional courses in math, social studies, science and foreign language.

In 2014, a total of 632 students in Johnson County received an Honors diploma, which is a 31 percent increase from the class of 2011, according to a new report from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. In addition, the number of Core 40 degrees earned by students rose by 4.5 percent, according to the state. The report’s latest data is from the class of 2014.

School officials said they don’t steer students toward a certain diploma, but more students are making that choice. And in response, schools are offering more options for higher level courses.

“I think part of it for us is we see a lot more students taking much more rigorous courses in general,” said Cameron Rains, Clark-Pleasant’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“Part of it is simply a byproduct of more students starting in that more rigorous coursework earlier on in their careers, so an Honors diploma becomes pretty obtainable by the time they’re juniors and seniors.”

Students want to challenge themselves in order to be more competitive when trying to get into their favorite colleges, Franklin Community High School Assistant Principal Scott Martin said.

In order to meet those demands, schools have worked to increase the number of higher-level classes available to students in recent years, including expanding dual credit options, online programming and Advanced Placement classes.

And officials do encourage students to take advantage of those courses, they said.

Clark-Pleasant officials expect each senior to graduate with at least 9 college credits before heading to college to save students and their families money and prepare students for a four-year or two-year degree or trade school, Rains said.

At Greenwood schools, all students start high school taking classes that would qualify for either the Core 40 or Honors diploma, director of guidance Bill Ronk said. If a student has good grades in their freshman year, and continues to succeed, it will be easier to get those higher-level diplomas, he said.

“We go into it with the assumption that every student graduating the high school will either earn a Core 40 or Honors diploma,” Ronk said.

By the numbers

More Johnson County students are graduating with a Core 40 diploma or a diploma with academic honors, according to a new report from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Here’s a look at how the county’s numbers compare:

School year;Honors diplomas;Core 40 diplomas;General diplomas