Thayn develops another early graduation program, but this one needs state dollars upfront (video)

Thayn develops another early graduation program, but this one needs state dollars upfront (video)

by
Dustin Hurst
January 27, 2012
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
January 27, 2012

Rep. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, really wants high school kids to get their secondary coursework done quickly so they can go to college early.

Thayn, a former teacher himself, proposed Thursday what he calls his "8 in 6 Program," a process through which he says high school students can graduate early, take college courses and cut two years off their educational career.

This is the second time in three years Thayn has brought such legislation. In 2010, he championed the Mastery Advancement Pilot Project (MAPP), a program allowing students to graduate early and earn state-funded scholarships for doing so.

But unlike MAPP, 8 in 6 requires state money to function the way Thayn envisions. MAPP allows students to test out of courses to graduate early and the money they save by leaving school early is split among the state, the district and the pupil. Typically, students are given $1,400 in scholarship money to be used at in-state colleges and universities.

The startup cost for 8 in 6 would be about $2.5 million, with the money going to pay for summer school courses for interested students. Thayn says students, utilizing summer and online courses, can graduate up to two years early, allowing them enough time to take college courses at their high schools and graduate with an associate’s degree around age 18. Students would start taking extra classes in junior high school in order to shave two years off high school graduation.

The state would pay $225 per summer school course for each student and families would pitch in $75.

The program’s appeal, Thayn believes, is the savings associated with it. Though the upfront cost may scare off some lawmakers, the program aims to save the state—and families—money in the long run.

Based on how much the state spends per each university student, Thayn says the state could save as much as $40 million down the road if at least 2,100 students take part in the program.

He also believes families could save about the same amount because they would have to pay for only two years of living expenses, tuition, books, fees and other college-associated costs. The program, if executed correctly, would also get students in to the workforce quicker, increasing the lifetime earnings potential.

The plan was introduced in the House Education Committee Thursday. Thayn hopes it will receive its official hearing sometime next week.

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