Out-of-state school district adding year to high school


Hannah McGee / Legacy Media

According to “The Journal of Educational Research”, Grade 13 graduates obtain higher grades in high school, are more likely to pursue university and are less likely to be employed full time compared to Grade 12 graduates.

I ran across an article recently about how an out-of-state school district is expected to approve a program next year that creates a 13th grade for high school students. In the district, there’s a school called Middle College High School, where 200 students a year graduate with an average of 30 college credits. Next year, another campus will be added along with a 13th grade. Students graduating in this program will receive their high school diploma as well as a two-year associate’s degree. Although an extra year of high school sounds torturous, this school district may be onto something.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as a second semester senior, I’m aware that the cost of post-secondary education is always increasing. In addition to graduating with a jumpstart on higher education, students with a fifth year of high school reduce the costs and time of earning a degree. Programs that allow students to tackle college-level content in the environment of a supportive high school classroom have shown to increase graduation rates, according to the American Institutes for Research, because students receive various benefits to brighten their futures.

The National Institute of Mental Health found that parts of the brain that command judgment, self-control, emotion and organization are still developing in teenagers, making them more susceptible to making poor choices. College campuses present these adolescents with freedoms they may not be neurologically ready for. An extra year in a more regulated high school environment can give students the chance to further mature, which will help them adjust more smoothly to a university environment in the future.

My only personal reservation about this program is that there are no school-sanctioned extracurricular activities, so students miss out on an authentic high school experience. While students will not experience the liveliness of these activities, is clear that the pros outweigh this single con and a grade 13 is a simple way of providing additional support to students in their pursuit of higher education.