Early graduation path at high schools
High school diplomas under new program to be awarded this spring.
a new program will help highachieving students get their diplomas a year early with a good chance of admission to the University of texas or texas a&m.
Under a program thought to be the first of its kind in the nation, some of the highestachieving students at Texas high schools will be able to graduate a year early with a very good chance of admission to the state’s two public flagship universities.
The state Legislature authorized the early high school graduation option in 2009. The first high school diplomas issued under the program will be awarded in the spring.
The University of Texas and Texas A&M University have established strict eligibility rules. A student must achieve high scores in English, math, science, social studies and a foreign language on Advanced Placement tests, International Baccalaureate tests, SAT subject tests or certain other exams.
In addition, only students in participating school districts and charter schools are eligible.
The list of districts and charter schools is a work in progress, but 10 are being invited to join initially: the Austin, Beaumont, Brownwood, Elgin, Hidalgo, Manor
and Magnolia school districts, and the KIPP Austin, KIPP Houston and IDEA charter schools.
A broader call for participation is expected to be issued after the holidays, said Harrison Keller, vice provost for higher education policy and research at UT, which is administering the program for both flagships.
Qualifying students would be awarded high school diplomas at the end of their junior year even if they had not com- pleted all of the credits typically required. The pool of qualifying students is expected to be small, but those students are very talented, Keller said.
The diplomas would not guarantee admission to UT, A&M or any other school, but they would carry considerable weight with admissions officers.
“We are pleased to partner with UT-Austin in making possible this opportunity — and obviously hope our institutions will be attractive higher education destinations for the students who qualify for this new program,” said Pamela R. Matthews, vice provost for academic affairs at A&M.
Officials said no other state has an early high school graduation option aligned with the expectations of its leading universities.
Graduating from high school a year early could be a good fit for students who, for example, have already satisfied graduation requirements in math and who might otherwise skip the subject during their senior year, Keller said.
“That’s actually really bad for them,” he said of skipping math. “They forget stuff, they lose momentum, and it’s tougher for them to get up to speed in college.”