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High School Diplomas and College-Career Planning

Concept_grad_boyFor many years now, there has been an ongoing debate in education circles on the high school experience and its role in college and career readiness. While some may see a high school diploma as its own success, a growing number are looking to the diploma as a passport to what is ahead, with the high school credential providing entry to the college and career pathways available to the learner.

Chicago Public Schools is now taking those connections between high school and the future even further, with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announcing plans to require clear college and career plans in order to obtain the high school diploma.

As The Chicago Tribune recently reported, those seeking a CPS high school diploma will need to demonstrate acceptance to a postsecondary education institution or career training program, a job offer, military induction, or specific plans in an approved gap year program before graduation.

In discussing this shift from credential to credential plus career plans, the Tribune quoted Mayor Emanuel as saying: “Just like you do with your children, college, post-high school, that is what’s expected. If you change expectations, it’s not hard for kids to adapt.”

While the Chicago proposal is likely to draw a great deal of discussion and debate, it does make one important point. A high school credential is insufficient for a student to succeed in the world tomorrow. Perhaps, by asking all high school seniors to consider what comes next, the Chicago Public Schools will help more students explore college and career pathways and see what might be possible.

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