Move On When Ready offers options to students
The Helios Education Foundation recently awarded the Yuma Union High School District a $3.9 million grant for the Ready Now Yuma program, with the goal of having every graduate prepared to succeed in a college or a career. This series will look at the funding, how it will be used and what the implications are for YUHSD. Today's story looks at the Move On When Ready policy.
Four years of high school just aren't for everybody.
Jamie Sheldahl is an associate superintendent at Yuma Union High School District and before that was a principal at Gila Ridge and Kofa. He says that some young adults are bright, but they become disengaged when they consider school boring or irrelevant.
These students might be ready to “move on,” and in Yuma, they have the option to do it as soon as the end of 10th grade.
Move On When Ready is an aptly named concept. Under this model, which YUHSD adopted last school year after the state Legislature allowed it for public schools in 2010, students can earn a Grand Canyon Diploma if they show readiness for college-level math and English according to a battery of exams taken as early as the end of sophomore year, which for most students is age 15 or 16.
Offering the Grand Canyon Diploma is optional for Arizona public schools, and YUHSD is one of the few districts that have gotten on board.
In Yuma, the Cambridge program is the basis for the curriculum and tests. This tightly ties Move On When Ready to Ready Now Yuma, the partnership with the Helios Education Foundation that aims to graduate every student from YUHSD ready for college or career. A $3.9 million grant from Helios is bringing the Cambridge curriculum to all YUHSD students, with the idea to prepare students so they won't need remediation after high school.
A Grand Canyon Diploma gives a student a variety of pathways — earning one doesn't mean the student has to leave high school.
Here's what they can do:
• Enroll in a community college the next fall without having to take remedial courses. If they stay on track at the community college, they could earn an associate's degree when they would otherwise be finishing 12th grade. They can then transfer to a college or university for a bachelor's degree as juniors.
• Enroll in a post-high school vocational program.
• Stay in high school and continue with the traditional academic offerings.
• Stay in high school and take on another rigorous board exam program to prepare them for admission to a selective college or university.
For students who pass the exams at the end of 10th grade but do not want to leave high school, the new structure allows them to pursue their high school diploma similarly to pursuing a college degree: Front-end load your program with a range of core subjects, and then, as juniors and seniors, follow an in-depth “major,” taking courses in subjects like the arts or career and technical education that would have been put on the back burner in favor of four years of core sequences.
Move On When Ready is thought to be revenue-neutral, according to the Center for the Future of Arizona, a public policy group that supports the movement. As students exit high school early, the school district can reinvest the resources that would have been put toward those students.
Also, school districts will keep a portion of the state per-pupil funding for the students they graduated early through what would have been the end of their traditional 12th grade year.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.