It’s all in the family for Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett.
Thayn, presenting a bill to get students through high school more quickly, brought his daughter Carly to the House Education Committee Monday to talk about her success in using online courses to graduate early from high school.
The younger Thayn, a junior set to shave a year off her high school career, told members of the House Education Committee that motivation is critical in utilizing online courses. “If you have the will to do it, you can do it,” Carly Thayn said. “It’s not that hard.”
The elder Thayn’s bill, House Bill 426, helps students graduate early by paying for a share of summer school courses, taken either online or in class. The state would pay $225 per summer school course for each student and families would pitch in $75. If students do not perform well enough in the classes, the state support will end and families will be asked to pay the full class costs moving forward in the program.
The bill moves to the House floor after a unanimous vote of approval from committee members.
There was concern about how to pay for the program among committee members. The startup cost for what Thayn is calling the “8 in 6” program would be about $2.5 million, with the money going to pay for summer school courses for interested students.
But Thayn sees the costs as an investment, helping students take courses in high school and eventually requiring less state funding for college education. He estimates that the state could save as much as $14 million annually through the program.
He also believes families could save money because early graduation would mean students could stay at home and take dual enrollment courses instead of going off to college and incurring extra housing, food and tuition costs.
Taking dual enrollment course in high school could also boost Idaho’s rate of high school kids going to college. Some 46 percent of ordinary students go on to college or trade school after graduation, but that number is much higher for kids who utilize dual enrollment classes. Jason Hancock, a top state education agency aide, told committee members that about 80 percent of students who take dual enrollment classes in high school go on to college.
Hancock dubbed the dual enrollment courses as “rocket fuel” in the push to get more kids into college or trade school.
The younger Thayn didn’t address college, but did say her courses have made her a better learner and an independent thinker. “You don’t learn what your teacher needs you to learn, you learn what you need to learn,” she said.
Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, supported the idea because it’s another way to get more students into college. “I appreciate your constant willingness to think outside the box and your creative approach,” said Cronin in referring to Rep. Thayn, though he believes the idea will need some refinement if it is implemented into law. “I think this is a good concept.”
Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, expressed similar sentiment. “I just hope we get the bugs worked out before it becomes law,” he said.