Chicago’s Proposed Graduation Requirements Won’t Provide Needed College or Career Opportunities, Penn GSE Experts say

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed this week that students would need to prove they had been accepted into a college or trade school program or the military, or have a job offer, in order to graduate high school. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education respond to a well-intended proposal they believe would fall short of putting more students on the path to a college degree or a family-supporting career.

Dr. Joni Finney

“It's wonderful that Mayor Emanuel wants people to prepare for life after high school, but he would run into real obstacles trying to make this a meaningful graduation requirement. However, it could be the basis for a campaign that would help high schools focus on the next steps for their students. Perhaps the mayor could try some carrot approaches rather than using a stick.

Here are a few ideas: If a student get an acceptance letter, it is acknowledged on their diploma, or they get some monetary reward to pay for whatever comes next.  (And, in Illinois that would be a big problem).  What if he found internships for kids to experience college level type jobs while in high school? What if he got the business community and not for profits to engage in a big way, particularly in certain schools?”             -- Dr. Joni Finney


Dr. Laura Perna

“Identifying outcomes for high school graduates, like college entrance, military or employment, is a start. But – simply requiring these particular outcomes is not enough.

Many students who aren't currently considering college would likely try to enroll at open access or less selective colleges to meet the proposed requirements. We know completion rates for many of these schools are low. To fully realize the benefits, students must persist to complete their degree programs. This requires both financial resources and academic preparation. How does the mayor intend to boost those? 

To have the best shot, students need help navigating the college search and finding the school, and financial aid, that works for their lives. Are Chicago Public Schools ready to commit enough counselors and other resources to give their students that support?”    -- Dr. Laura Perna