Learning First Alliance

Strengthening public schools for every child

Better Late than Never

vonzastrowc's picture

Rules that would allow schools to get credit for students who take more than four years to graduate are causing some debate. Critics of the rules worry that they relieve necessary pressure on high schools to improve their four-year graduation rates. Supporters argue that they encourage schools to take a chance on students who would drop out in four years.

NSBA's Center for Public Education offers some insight into the issue. The Center recently studied the academic performance, academic attainment, job prospects, civic involvement and health of people who take longer than four years to graduate. Center researchers concluded that:

On-time graduation remains the best prospect for students, and districts should make on-time graduation the first priority for all students. But the extra work late graduates and their schools put toward earning a high school diploma pays off—not only in academic outcomes, but in every aspect of life including work, civic, and health. Late graduates do markedly better in all arenas than GED recipients and dropouts. And, when the data are controlled to compare students of equivalent socioeconomic status and achievement level, late graduates come close to on-time graduates’ achievement.