Reps. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, and Branden Durst, D-Boise, teamed up to successfully introduce a bill that could radically alter the public education system in Idaho.
The two men, in an effort to incentivize students to become more involved in their own education, spent eight months crafting the plan that, if enacted, would create a pilot program that would allow students to graduate up to three years early from high school. The plan is both one of cost-savings and student achievement, according to the duo.
During the run of the pilot project, according to Thaynvia his blog, the state could realize as much as $585,000 in savings per year. The program, entitled Mastery Advancement Pilot Program (MAPP), would allow students, starting as early as kindergarten, to push their own education forward and proceed at their own pace. MAPP would enable students in grades K-6 to complete "skill-based" assessments, which, if completed successfully, would enable them to move onto the next grade level. Student in grades 7-12 would be required to face "knowledge-based" exams that would test a student's understanding of every curriculum area of education offerings. According to Thayn, the program does nothing to change existing curriculum as already established.
Students who utilize the program to graduate early would receive state-funded scholarships to use in Idaho's colleges and universities. According to Thayn, the state pays about $4,500 per school year to educate each student. The bill aims to have fewer students in school during the senior and junior year, which would ultimately mean a savings for schools districts and the state. The duo wishes to give 35 percent of the cost of educating each student who graduates early to the district anyway and will return 30 percent back to the state general fund. Students could receive as much as 35 percent of that money for scholarships for each semester they graduate early.
The bill was introduced by a unanimous vote by the House Education Committee and will receive further deliberation later in the week.