The Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) today received an update regarding key program successes under the state’s Employability Skills Innovation and Implementation grant program. First deployed by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) in 2022, this grant provided $10 million to help schools and communities prepare students to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s workforce.

“It’s pretty incredible when you see the collaboration occurring at the community level to ensure every child is prepared for that next step after graduation, whether their plans include employment, enrollment, or enlistment leading to service,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “This includes opportunities for students to explore, engage, and experience different career opportunities, to earn a high-quality credential before graduating high school, and to develop employability skills, including the ability to respectfully communicate and collaborate with others. This work is not only improving the lives of individual students – helping them to find their purpose and develop their best path – but also has a direct positive impact on our families, our communities, and our state.”

Two of the grant recipients that were highlighted for SBOE were Milan Community School Corporation and Batesville Community School Corporation – both showing significant, positive results for students.

Milan Community School Corporation
Since receiving an approximately $630,000 grant, Milan has employed a full-time work-based learning director focused on creating new and increased work-based learning internships for juniors and seniors. The district has also been able to provide students with experiences, lessons, and services that include guest speakers, employability skills, and career-focused field trips to colleges, universities, manufacturing facilities, and technical schools.

“Our vision at Milan Community Schools is for students to learn and grow every day and graduate with a purpose,” said Jane Rogers, Superintendent of Milan Community School Corporation. “This grant has allowed us to formulate a map to make this vision a reality for each student.”

Working with Genesis Pathways to Success, a part of the Ripley County Community Foundation, Milan has created a K-12 career-focused curriculum with innovative, meaningful opportunities specifically designed for students in all grades. The priority in early years is providing a solid foundation of reading, language arts, and math skills, with interventions to students in need. By high school, freshmen and sophomores utilize their Graduation Preparation Period, which meets four days per week, to dive deeper into career interests. By their junior and senior years, students are focusing on their next step after high school.

Batesville Community School Corporation
Batesville High School has leveraged its approximately $126,000 grant to engage strategic partners to provide employability skill development sessions to all students. Teachers provide grade-level learning communities focused on key technical skills, skill development, and 21st-century leadership attributes. As freshmen, students focus on mastering six Microsoft Excel skills and five recognizable components of effective public speaking. During their sophomore and junior years, students participate in the industry-recognized DiSC assessment, which helps to identify individual personality and interpersonal characteristics. With the help of Skilline, personalized DiSC reports serve as a foundation for introducing key Indiana Employability Skills.

“Batesville High School strives to develop desirable applicants through our opportunities, processes, and experiences,” said Principal Andy Allen. “Upon graduation, our student outcomes will form some combination of employment, enrollment, or enlistment. We desire Batesville High School graduates to be at a competitive advantage through academic knowledge acquisition and their ability to answer the leadoff question in every interview, ‘Please tell us a little about yourself, including your strengths and weaknesses.’”

Through the RISE Project, all seniors have an opportunity to engage in experiential learning sessions guided by community leaders on the Power of Choice, Boldness of Character, and Gifts of Compassion. This work has resulted in immediate tangible outcomes, such as increasing access to work-based learning experiences, increasing enrollment in relevant course sequences, as well as increased student collaboration and confidence.

The Employability Skills Innovation and Implementation grant, awarded in August 2022, aims to build a framework to better support intentional skill development, and ultimately, help more students develop in-demand employability skills essential to success in today’s competitive workforce. Schools receiving this grant are on the cutting edge of determining how best to measure these important skills. In total, $10 million was awarded to 58 schools across 40 counties. More information on the Employability Skills Innovation and Implementation grant can be found here.

Update to Graduation Pathways Requirements
On Wednesday, SBOE also voted to maintain the minimum ASVAB score necessary to satisfy Graduation Pathways requirements at 31.

Historically, this score had been aligned to the minimum score necessary for students to qualify for placement into one of the branches of the U.S. military. This minimum score was recently adjusted from 31 to 10, specifically for entrance into the U.S. Navy. Maintaining the minimum score at 31 will ensure Indiana students have additional options for service post-graduation.

More information on Graduation Pathways can be found here.