Every high school student attending an Idaho public school receives $1,500 for graduating early. The money is part of the state's Advanced Opportunities Program that others say is a revolutionary approach to fostering learning opportunities. Will other states follow the model?
Idaho's Department of Education revamped its Advanced Opportunities Program in 2016. It was based on a Task Force for Education recommendation from 2013.
Under the program, the state gives each public school student from the seventh to the 12th grade the amount of $4,125 to spend on their academics, according to the Hechinger Report. Students may then use this money to boost their education on top of a full high school schedule.
Students can enroll in extra college credit-bearing classes or enlist in an online course for added learning. They can also use the money for payment for professional certification examinations.
If an Idaho student graduates early for taking additional courses, the state grants a "$1,500-per-year-skipped," as per The Blaze. Low-income families who struggle with sending their kids to college benefit from this program as it helps trim down college costs and ensures the students of higher education opportunities.
Other states have its own advanced courses programs but Idaho's is considered unique. The students are given an online account to self-manage and monitor their $4,125 Advanced Opportunities progress. They can view courses selections in the system, including summer classes and educational camps, as well as receive advice from the school staff on these courses.
Data on the program's impact is still unavailable but the assumption is that the system encourages more college-bound students. Idaho's Education department projects 25,000 students are taking part in Advanced Opportunities this school year, up from last year's 10,000 students.
Idaho's system, however, isn't free of criticisms. Schools paying students for getting a diploma is a "backward" business concept, according to Conservative Review. It's also the state that essentially directs how funds are spent as it dictates course selections. Thus, students aren't exactly free to manage their academic choices.
What do you think of Idaho's Advanced Opportunities Program? Learn more about it in the video below.