Monday, February 15, 2010

New Bill Would Pilot Incentives for Early Grads

New Bill Would Pilot Incentives for Early Grads

Representatives Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, and Branden Durst, D-Boise, proposed an interesting idea in the House Education Committee today. They introduced the Mastery Advancement Pilot Program bill, which would provide financial incentives for Idaho students who graduate early from high school.

Under the legislation, an Idaho student could earn an additional $1,600, on average, for each year he or she graduates early. The local district would earn the same amount. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has said he supports the legislation because it is a pilot program.

Since taking office in 2007, Superintendent Luna has worked to remove any barriers to students who want to graduate early and to provide additional opportunities of advancement for students.

In the past year, Superintendent Luna, with approval from the State Board of Education and Idaho Legislature, has given local districts the flexibility to grant students credit if students can demonstrate mastery in a subject area, rather than credits solely based on seat time.  In addition, the State Department of Education has revised Board rule to ensure middle school students have the chance to earn high school credit if they take advanced courses in the middle grades.

Based on a proposal by Superintendent Luna, the state also worked to increase dual-credit course offerings statewide for high school juniors and seniors. In 2008, the Dual Credit Task Force developed the framework for implementing a successful statewide plan. The plan was included in Idaho’s application for the federal Race to the Top grant funding. The Idaho Education Network will also help make dual-credit courses more available to students by connecting students in every corner of Idaho to Idaho’s colleges and universities and programs like Idaho Digital Learning Academy.

House Bill 493 introduced this morning is another step in this direction.  Under the bill, up to 1,500 Idaho students would pilot the Mastery Advancement Scholarship. Students would be awarded the scholarship if they complete all the necessary high school graduation requirements at least one year early.

Currently, the state pays Idaho districts a certain amount based on average daily attendance for each student every year. Under the pilot program, students and districts would receive incentives if a student graduates early. Students would receive 35 percent of their school district’s annual average daily attendance rate, with 35 percent also being dispersed to the school district, and the remaining 30 percent being remitted back to the state General Fund.

The House Education Committee sent the bill to the full House.

House Bill 493 can be read in full online at

~ Melissa M. 

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