Debate Magazine

Five-year High Schools ‘a Creative Disruption’ to Show Improved Graduation Rates

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

Earlier this month I told you about Oregon’s plan to count hundreds of students who completed four years of high school but don’t have diplomas as “graduates,” thereby raising the state’s on-time high school graduation rate, which currently  ranks second-lowest in the nation. Now they’ve got another great idea….

money2

Oregon Live: A small but growing group of Oregon high schools, including those in Albany, Dallas, Redmond and Lebanon, have found a legal way to get an extra $6,500 per student from the state school fund to usher students through a fifth year of high school that is actually a first year of college.

Leaders in districts that don’t offer students a free year of community college after they complete high school graduation requirements have cried foul at the use of money intended to pay for K-12 education to fund college instead.

But the head of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, in an opinion article written for The Oregonian, praises the fifth-year programs as a “creative disruption” that deliver astounding results.

The vast majority of students who try the free (to them) fifth-year program end up earning a full year of college credit. Most students who start at community college on their own drop out before earning that many credits. (So students need government taxpayer funding to improve their desire to continue college?)

That success convinced Nesbitt, who concedes the schools may be taking unfair advantage of the school funding system, that the rules should be changed to explicitly allow the five-paid-years approach to high school and community college — and to spread it to more communities.

One other rule has already been changed to help schools that offer the fifth-year program. Starting in January, those schools will be able to count students who enter the fifth year of high school as graduates — even though the students don’t have diplomas, because if the school were to give them one, the school couldn’t claim the $6,500 in state funding.

Oregon officials are making a huge push to increase the percentage of young Oregonians who earn degrees or industry certification from a community college. Having better-educated workers enter the job market would help transform Oregon’s economy, which currently has a lot of low-wage jobs because it has so many low-skilled workers who have dropped out of Oregon high schools or completed little or no higher education, said higher education commission member Duncan Wyse, who also directs the Oregon Business Council.

Here’s an idea: Try educating children during the three years of high school with a comprehensive curriculum. Wouldn’t result in more money, I guess.

DCG


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