By Jerra Scott
OXFORD – While they can already skip their senior year, students in the Oxford School District may soon be able to shave a semester off their studies.
The Oxford School Board approved the first reading of a new policy this week that will give students the option of graduating a semester early.
Students already have the option of graduating a full year early, but board members believe that by adding this alternative to finishing their studies a semester early, students will have more time to decide whether they want to pursue early graduation.
“This extra semester would allow students to declare a little bit later because now they’re graduating a full year early and they have to declare before the end of their sophomore year,” Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey said.
“This is just a semester early, so they could delay that decision and probably make a better decision if early graduation is something they want to pursue.”
About 30 states have an early graduation policy, but most of them have a semester — early option, not a full-year early option, said Bill Hamilton, assistant superintendent.
“Sometimes we have these outstanding students that are ready to go to college and they’re not interested in any of the extracurriculars that are going on and this is what this policy would be for,” Hamilton said. “With this policy, students will get the choice to wait until the end of their junior year to tell us if they want to graduate early instead of their sophomore year.”
To graduate early, students may take summer classes as well as dual classes and some even sign up for courses at community colleges to gain their required Carnegie units to meet state and district standards for high school completion.
Students would still be eligible to participate in the spring commencement ceremony as well.
Early graduation is a growing topic across the nation.
Many school districts are making their own policies as well. An incentive for this is a reduction in state spending when students graduate early and some states even offer financial incentives to the students. The percent of scholarships offered to these students also rose exponentially, according to the news site.
Of the 24 states that don’t have policies for early graduation, such as Mississippi, state education officials are leaving the decision up to the local school districts.
“With us being in a university town, it’s really unusual that we have made it this far without this option,” Harvey said. “We have gotten some requests here recently for this option.”
The second reading for the topic will be at the next school board meeting in April.