Graduating in Three Years May Not Happen

Florida lawmakers now admit their plan to speed some students through high school has some big problems. The law allows qualified students to graduate in just three years, but legislators are now working on a plan to dramatically limit the number of kids who can graduate early.

High school junior Ryan Powers thinks a new law that lets students graduate in just three years was a bad move. He questions whether most kids would be ready to tackle college or a career if they skip their senior year.

As it turns out, the legislature is also having second thoughts. The concern: they may have made it too easy for kids who really aren't ready to be out on their own. One of the problems with the current law is it only requires students to have a 2.0 grade point average to graduate in three years. Lawmakers now realize they need to set the bar a little higher. A bill being debated at the capitol would force students to maintain a 3.5 GPA to stay in the accelerated graduation program.

They'd also need at least six of their required 18 credits in advanced college placement courses. The bill also bags the career track program. Only college-bound students would qualify.

State education commissioner Jim Horne downplays the law's shortcomings. He says tightening its requirements won't be a big deal.

“There really has been no significant problems out there, but I think there's a desire on both the department, the executive office and the legislature to more clearly define what kind of student ought to be making use of that,” says Jim Horne.

It's a concern school officials have been raising since last year. They're just wondering why it took lawmakers this long to listen.

Only a small percentage of Florida's high school students signed up for the three-year graduation program this year. For example, of Palm Beach County's 44,000 students, 256 are taking part.


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