Could getting students out of high school earlier be beneficial to higher education and to the students themselves? More and more states think the answer is yes. An increasing number of states are encouraging students to take college courses or graduate early in hopes to bypass the senior slump, save families college tuition money, and curb the school districts’ instructional costs, according the the article “Some States Prodding Students to Graduate Early.“
“Requiring kids to be in school for 13 years is so 19th century,” said Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators. The 21st century mode of thought believes a student’s readiness should be weighed by how proficient they are in a subject, not how many years they have spent in the classroom.
However, opposers of this movement believe it might harm student success more than help. Today, we are seeing more college students drop out, take remedial courses, and struggle with the maturity required to get and keep a good job. Pushing students to graduate early might also mean more students leave high school before they are college and career ready, impeding their chances for later progess.
It’s estimated that 23 states allow early high school graduation, but only a few will offer an incentive. It was found that most students who finish early were held to the same expectations as students on a four-year program, and that they were able to gain required credits by putting in time using online courses, independent study, evening or summer courses, or by testing out.
Many things in our lives are becoming customizable, and education might be one of the next areas to launch. We know that not every individual listens to the same radio station, needs the same insurance plan, or has the same learning style as the student sitting next to him. Technology affords us an increasing amount of variables to customize education. Just as not every school setting or class schedule can benefit every student, not every new strategy is equally beneficial for every student.
When a student finishes their high school requirements, it might mean they are academically prepared for college courses, but are they ready emotionally and socially? What if there was a “thirteenth” year as there is in New Zealand where students spend an entire year working before they go to college? How much more would students know about themselves—their goals, their dreams, their strengths, weaknesses and their passions? This self-knowledge could fuel persistence in the face of difficulty, inspire a work ethic to be tenacious, contribute and do quality work. Is the workforce of tomorrow related to the time we take to develop students in all aspects of their lives today?