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February 15th, 2010 12:44 pm
Utah Making 12th Grade Optional?

At a time when governments at every level are confronted with the need to deliver services with less money, one Utah legislator is proposing a novel idea: encourage high school kids to graduate early.  The logic is simple enough: if students complete their graduation requirements a year early, they should have the option to graduate.  While the solution makes sense, it should require a broader rethinking of how education is structured.

Currently, most school districts receive funding based on the number of students in average daily attendance.  Thus, the way to get the most money is to have the most students on campus.  Unfortunately, that can create a perverse incentive to make it difficult for students who would otherwise graduate early, or leave campus during the day to take college courses.  While it makes sense to fund schools in proportion to the numbers in their student body, it is ridiculous to penalize schools when students want to accelerate their education.  Instead, schools should be rewarded for helping students graduate early.  Not only would the graduation of the 11th grade “senior” free up a seat, it would help to reorient the educational system back to its primary goal: educating the individual student.

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