Some schools are planning to pilot a program that allows students to get a three year high school diploma. This would allow students to get a head start on college and states would no longer lose state money if a student graduates early.

Three Year High School DiplomaThe money that is saved from the three year high school diploma for the fourth, unused year of high school, would then be used for a full-day pre-K program. Schools in Dallas are already working to implement this idea.

Preparations are underway for a three year high school diploma pilot program on some campuses during the 2014-15 school year, said Ann Smisko, DISD’s academic chief. The plan is in the early stages, and it’s not certain how many high schools would be part of the initial rollout.

Students would voluntarily participate in this program and parent approval would be required according to the Dallas Morning News.

School Curriculum Requirements for Three Year High School Diploma

English and Math have to be included in the curriculum to allow students to succeed in their junior college courses. According to some educators, this a great idea!

“I remember when my daughter, who is now a physician, took AP junior college courses in high school, which allowed her to graduate with a much higher grade point average,”said Pat Wyman, college professor and best-selling author and this program goes a step better, allowing students to save time, money and the school district to benefit as well.”

The news article continued to say, “The State Board of Education will have an opportunity to comment on the proposal. And Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams must approve “the scope of the program and the program curriculum requirements,” according to the new law.

Smisko said she doesn’t want the curriculum to be less rigorous than the four-year requirements. The district has not worked out the details.

Dallas school trustee Mike Morath presented the idea to state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, who was the primary sponsor of House Bill 1122. The legislation expires on Sept. 1, 2023. Depending on the program’s success, it could be renewed and expanded to other school districts.

Morath said accelerated graduation programs can cost school districts because daily attendance helps determine state funding. They can lose money when students finish early. He said the bill authorizing the Dallas program addresses that issue.

“It fixes this big financial flaw,” Morath said. “We get to keep the money and apply it to prekindergarten.”

The bill requires that the state “provide funding for the district’s prekindergarten program … on a full-day basis for a number of prekindergarten students equal to twice the number of students who received a high-school diploma” under the three-year plan.

Johnson said the bill was written for DISD and received broad bipartisan support. He said some of his colleagues expressed interest in including their districts in the program, but for now the focus would stay on DISD. Other districts could be included in the future.

“For some kids, the fourth year of high school is unnecessary, and this would allow them to skip it without sacrificing the quality of the education they receive, since it requires them to be adequately prepared for junior college-level courses before they can graduate under the program,” Johnson said by email.

“At the same time, it allows for more funding for Dallas ISD’s pre-K program,” he continued. “Starting kids off early is a proven, successful method for improving their educational experience.”

Students who participate must perform “satisfactorily” on required end-of-course state assessments, the law says. Other states have explored ways to better use the senior year, according to the Education Commission of the States, a nonprofit focused on improving public education. They too, may choose to offer a three year high school diploma.

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Three Year High School Diploma