A bill that would turn the 12th grade into a “launch year,” where students could earn credit toward anything from a professional certificated to a baccalaureate degree, is getting its second public hearing this morning.
The idea was proposed by Gov. Chris Gregoire as part of her sweeping reform plan for the education system and introduced as a bill by the House on February 2. It passed out of the House 70-27 and is now under consideration by the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee, which plans to vote on the bill Thursday.
Rep. Kristine Lytton, a sponsor of the bill, said only 35 percent of students are taking a full course load their senior year. “As a parent of college-age students, I can appreciate that during these tough economic times they can save on college tuition,” she said.
“We also see it as a way for parents to be engaged in their students’ education,” said Lucinda Young of the Washington Education Association. A lot of students, she said, don’t have the confidence that they can do the work to get their dream job. But a launch year, she said, would show them that they are capable of achieving greater things.
The League of Education Voters supports the measure. “There is great opportunity here,” said a spokesperson for the League. “It is the most effective use of public resources.”
“We think that this emphasizes rigor,” said a representative of Gregoire’s office. “We think that this emphasizes opportunity.”
“Additional growth in kids attending college will come from these alternative pathways,” said another supporter of the bill.
Under the measure, high schools would be required to use existing resources to work toward the goal of offering enough courses to give students the chance to earn the equivalent of a year’s worth of postsecondary credit. In order to earn that credit, like an apprenticeship certification or a four-year degree, seniors would need to take advanced high school courses and pass college-level proficiency exams or demonstrate their competency. Schools would have to make sure that students and parents know about the opportunity.
Colleges would also have to develop a list of postsecondary courses that could be fulfilled by taking the AP, IB or other recognized proficiency exams.