Wisconsin seventh- and eighth-graders would be eligible to earn high school credit as early as the 2014-2015 school year under a bipartisan bill introduced last week.
Students taking courses that are taught using high school equivalent curriculum and assessments and are led by teachers licensed to teach the classes at the high school level could be granted credit by their school board under the bill authored by Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend.
Middle school students should be able to receive high school credit for equivalent classes taken in grades seven and eight just as high school students receive college credit for Advanced Placement classes, Grothman said.
“We have sharp kids in middle school who are racing through things,” he said. “Why shouldn’t they be able to knock off a few credits?”
The idea originated with a conversation with Ted Neitzke, West Bend School District superintendent, Grothman said. Currently, 20 percent of West Bend School District eighth-graders have the ability to take and pass a ninth-grade English class, Neitzke said.
Neitzke said the bill would allow students to take classes that focus on college and career readiness while also making up for budgetary constraints that caused career exploration classes to be cut.
“I think this is a huge win,” Neitzke said.
Co-sponsors of the legislation, Senate Bill 284, include Sens. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon; Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin; Fred Risser, D-Madison; Mark Miller, D-Monona; and Richard Gudex, R-Fond du Lac.
Rachel Strauch-Nelson, Madison School District spokeswoman, said the district wants to find out more about the proposal, “but we’re generally supportive of allowing flexibility that helps us develop personalized pathways for our students.”
Miller said the measure could expedite a high school education for some students.
“We have plenty of high school juniors who are more than capable and ready to go on to college and this bill just makes that a little easier for high school students to graduate in three years,” Miller said.
Grothman said the goal is to have the bill signed into law by the start of next school year.
“My goal outcome is to get people through the education system quicker and free up time so students can learn other things in high school or participate in work-study type of programs,” Grothman said.