It might be a cure for the dreaded "senioritis" and a way for school districts to save money. More and more districts around the country are allowing students to graduate from high school in less than four years. A recent report in USA Today said nearly half of states now have policies that allow for early high school graduation. Others, like Texas, allow local school districts to implement early grad policies. "So long as (students) are meeting the rigors of the curriculum that are required for that high school diploma, whether they get it in three or four years, if they're meeting those rigorous levels of learning and understanding that are required, there should be no risk," says Dominic Chavez with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The biggest example of an early graduation program in Texas is in the Dallas ISD, where a proposal is under consideration to create a three-year high school completion program for some students, with the cost savings to go toward pre-kindergarten programs. Proponents of these programs say they allow students to get a better jump on college or a career, while saving money and increasing efficiency for schools. But critics note there could be negative effects on students outside the classroom. Chavez understands those concerns. "Certainly they may be entering college a year younger than their peers, and there may be social issues there," he says.
Those social issues are the biggest concern for Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. "(The students) may be academically more mature, but the question is whether they're socially there," she tells KTRH. Fallon was an early high school grad herself and says she struggled at the social level upon entering college early. For that reason, she recommends districts take a cautious approach to these early grad programs. "For some kids, if they're bored in school and just want to get through, it probably works," she says. "As long as everyone is taking a good look at what the children do the day after they graduate."