Nevada adds 5th year to high school, sees grad rates rise
- With a fifth year added for students starting high school in 2011, Nevada saw an extra 630 students graduate from the class of 2016, reports the Las Vegas Review Journal.
- For students who started in 2011 but finished in 2015, the graduation rate was 70.8%, while the rate for students attending for five years increased to 73.5%. Nearly every district with the added year experienced the rise, as students were able to earn enough credits by either being held back or participating in adult-education classes.
- According to Superintendent of Instruction Steve Canavero, the fifth year is helping the state in attaining its goals under ESSA, which are currently being turned into the Department of Education.
The idea of the "13th grade" has been considered in the K12 education space for some time now. And in fact, Nevada isn't the first state to have done it — other states, including Oregon, have had high schools offer a fifth year and have seen positive results, according to Slate. The added year of high school offers an opportunity for many students that may need extra support and oversight a chance to gain experiential learning they need, without having to pay extra tuition money. The system also potentially allows more room for mastery of content, which is beneficial for college preparation.
But beyond being able to make up for learning gaps potentially remaining in the four year curriculum, students also view the 13th year as an option to earn college credits for free or reduced costs. K12 schools working with community colleges or other higher education institutions can adapt the five-year program to naturally transition to lower level college classes — credits which can be then transferred to other institutions. Schools that are specifically early college high schools already benefit from this strategy, but now other traditional district and private schools are seeing the advantages not only for their graduation rates, but also their students' matriculation into higher ed.
In Oregon, students that want to enter their 13th year do not receive their diplomas at the end of four years; instead they stay eligible for state funding that goes to enrolled high school students. However, they use that funding to pay fees toward community college tuition, books and lab expenses. Once students have finished their fifth year — with credits at a reduced costs — they can still enter college as sophomores based on eligiblity. Nevada's rising graduation rates highlight that this is as a viable option that educators can incorporate into their ESSA plans, particularly if their goals are centered around graduation rates and student outcomes.
- Las Vegas Review-Journal Nevada high school graduation rates inch up with fifth year added
- Slate Welcome to 13th Grade!
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