In a year where budgets are tight and hopes for postsecondary enrollment are high, it is perhaps only natural that one of this year's big policy topics is college scholarships for students who finish high school in fewer than 4 years. Legislation has already been enacted in South Dakota this session to create the Jump Start Scholarship Program. And so far this session, bills to create early graduation scholarship programs have been proposed in at least four other states: Nevada, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois.
These efforts are in addition to the existing programs in Utah, Arizona and Texas (summarized starting page 5 of this 2010 report), and the pilot program established in 2010 in Idaho.
Approaches to help students earn a high school diploma faster--for example, online courses, credit for demonstration of mastery, and credit for high school courses completed before grade 9--should ensure that students meet the same high expectations as students completing traditional diploma pathways. The aforementioned 2010 ECS report identifies best practices in all these areas.