Michigan Board's Proposal Would Provide Youths a Shortcut to College

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Michigan 10th and 11th graders who passed a state exam would have the option of enrolling in college, under a proposal put forward by the state board of education.

The state board last month overwhelmingly endorsed the plan, which requires legislative approval. Under the unusual proposal, high school students who passed the test could receive public funding for their continued education at a community college or public four-year college or university.

"If students who are 16 years old can elect to drop out of school, I think they should be able to elect to select a program that meets their needs,'' Superintendent of Public Instruction Robert E. Schiller said last week.

Mr. Schiller said the proposal has been forwarded to Gov. John Engler, whose office the board has asked to work with the legislature to develop necessary changes in state law.

The superintendent also has asked the state attorney general's office for an opinion on whether state funds could be provided to students who elected to leave high school early to attend a private institution.

Mr. Schiller said he consulted with several education groups in developing the college-option plan. But Jack D. Bittle, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, said his organization "strongly'' opposes it.

"They are virtually saying there is nothing in high school worth learning past the sophomore year,'' Mr. Bittle said last week.

"So far, I have not found anyone who is able to convince me that it is advantageous to send a 15-year-old off to college,'' he added. "There is a lot of socialization and growing up that happens, as well as the academic things, during that time.''

Individual Education Accounts

The proposal would give 10th and 11th graders who successfully complete a state proficiency examination that will be required in a few years for graduation several options beyond staying in their high school, provided they also meet all local graduation requirements.

Students could continue their high school education in another district, enroll simultaneously in a public high school and a community college, or attend a postsecondary institution full time.

"Basically, this grows out of the fact that the Governor and the state board have a commitment to schools of choice and offering as many options and opportunities as we can to our students,'' Mr. Schiller said.

Students who enrolled in public institutions of higher education ahead of schedule would be credited with Individual Education Accounts for each year until their high school classes graduated.

The amount in the accounts, to be used to pay tuition, would equal either the per-pupil spending in the student's district of residence or the actual tuition cost of the receiving higher-education institution, whichever was less.

"We are not saying kids should shorten their education,'' Mr. Schiller said. "What we are doing instead is encouraging them to further their learning.''

Use of Test Questioned

Mr. Bittle of the principals' group said he also objected to the board's decision to base the college option on the state proficiency exam. A 1991 law requires all students in the class of 1997 and beyond to pass the test in order to graduate.

Mr. Bittle said the test, slated to be offered for the first time in 1995, was designed to measure whether students have acquired certain basic academic skills--not whether their high school education is complete.

Chris Pipho, the director of state relations for the Education Commission of the States, pointed to one issue not addressed so far in the Michigan proposal--parent involvement in the student's decision. That question severely complicated the implementation of early-exit plans in California and Florida, which experimented with the idea in the 1970's, he noted.

Parents feared children would take the tests to exit from school without their knowledge, Mr. Pipho said.

Vol. 13, Issue 06

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

To Address Chronic Absenteeism, Dig into the Data

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Keep Your Schools Safe and Responsive to Real Challenges

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

3 Unique Learner Profiles for Emerging Bilinguals

Effective Questioning Practices to Spur Thinking

Empower Reading Teachers with Proven Literacy PD

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >