February 26 2010
Early Graduation is a Student-Centered Option
Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D
Forget sticking around for senior prom and the homecoming dance. There is a growing national trend of letting students graduate high school early and move on to college sooner. As USA Today reports,
Already, 21 states allow early graduation, according to the Education Commission of the States. And among the other 29, it's not entirely clear whether state law actually prohibits it. Thirty-five states allow students to finish high school based on mastering proficiency standards in state tests rather than satisfying course credit requirements or years spent in school.
So Utah state Sen. Chris Buttars' proposal to make the high school senior year optional shouldn't be so shocking. Law makers in Arizona are also considering allowing sophomores who pass the state standards test to graduate if they wish.
This trend is good news for students like Jake Trimble, who graduated early from the Academy of Math Engineering and Science (AMES), a Salt Lake City charter school. Being prepared sooner has allowed Jake to intern at the State Capitol, and he plans to work as a lab assistant at the University of Utah's Orthopedic Center later this year.
Early graduation may not be right for every student, but it should be available to all students-like Jake, who says, "I'm very happy to not be in high school anymore...rotting in my parents' basement."