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Early graduation bill gets nod from House

Early graduation bill gets nod from House

Dustin Hurst
March 25, 2010
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March 25, 2010

Early graduation proposal headed to governor

The plan proposed by Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise, and Rep. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, to allow high school students to graduate up to three years early from high school and receive a state-funded scholarship for doing so received final legislative approval Wednesday.

The House approved the Mastery Advancement Pilot Project (MAPP) on Feb. 22 and sent it on to the Senate.  The measure passed the Senate Education Committee with only one Republican dissenting, and moved on to the Senate floor.  It ran into trouble on the Senate floor when Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, realized that though the bill's authors intended the legislation to only run six years in length, there was no sunset clause actually inserted into the language of the bill.  Fulcher and fellow senators sent the bill to the Senate's amending order to make the changes.  Tuesday, senators approved the bill, changes inserted, and sent it back to the House for approval.

Wednesday on the House floor, Thayn asked fellow representatives to concur with the Senate's changes.  Without dissent, members of the House agreed to the changes, which means the bill will now be sent to Gov. Butch Otter for his consideration.  Thayn, in an e-mail sent out to supporters Wednesday, said he expects Otter to approve the program.

The program is a first-of-its-kind in Idaho and Thayn and Durst believe it will encourage students and families to become more involved in the education process.  Under the guidelines of the program, the Idaho Department of Education, in coordination with local school officials and teachers, is to develop exams that could be used to measure students’ aptitude.  For grades K-6, tests would be skill-based and students in grades 7-12 would face knowledge-based exams.  If students complete the exams successfully, they would be allowed to move to the next grade (for K-6 students), or to a higher course level (for grades 7-12).

If students move through work and exams quickly and graduate early, they would receive a portion of what the state would have paid to educate them their senior year in the form of a scholarship.  Thayn estimates the scholarship could be worth as much as $1,600 for each school year graduated early, though costs could vary from district to district.  Students would only be allowed to graduate three years early.

Thayn told IdahoReporter.com that if the measure is signed by the governor, he will work with the department to develop program rules and guidelines.  He said he expects the development process to only take several weeks.

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