Beginning next year, Maine might become the first state to tell its students they must fill out a college or other application for postsecondary training before they can receive a high school diploma.
“We are asking every high school student, not just a few, to give serious thought to their own futures and the opportunities they can create for themselves,” Rep. Glenn Cummings, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement.
Speaker Cummings, a Democrat, modeled his proposal on a similar policy in place at Poland Regional High School in Poland, Maine. The school goes further than the state legislation would, requiring all students not only to complete but also to submit college applications in order to graduate. As a result, Poland Regional High has seen its college-going rates nearly double, according to Tim Feeley, a spokesman for Mr. Cummings.
Mr. Cummings is hoping the measure might produce similar results statewide. Maine ranks last among the New England states in college-degree attainment. Just 49 percent of the state’s high school graduates entered college in the fall of 2004, compared with 59 percent in the region, according to the Maine Compact for Higher Education.
No state has made completing an application for postsecondary education a graduation requirement for all its students, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver.
The measure would permit the Maine Department of Education to encourage students to complete applications for college, the military, and other postsecondary opportunities. Susan A. Gendron, the state education commissioner, has said she planned to use the rulemaking process to make the application idea a requirement, said David A. Connerty-Marin, a spokesman for the department.
The measure has won preliminary approval in both houses of the Maine legislature, and both are expected to give final approval soon. Gov. John E. Baldacci, a Democrat, is expected to sign the measure when the legislature adjourns, as it’s scheduled to do next month, Mr. Feeley said.
A version of this article appeared in the May 23, 2007 edition of Education Week