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Incentives for Early Graduation: How Can State Policies Encourage Students to Complete High School in Less than Four Years?

Diane Ward and Joel Vargas

Many state legislatures are currently considering bills that would encourage students to complete high school in less than four years. Such policies can enable motivated young people who fulfill graduation requirements to move on to college or a career—saving time and money for their families and taxpayers.

The growing popularity of early graduation program proposals is notable, and their appeal will likely grow as states continue trying to contain budget increases. However, policymakers should think carefully about a number of design factors and questions when considering such policies and how to structure and fund them.

Incentives for Early Graduation explores issues that “early graduation” bills raise and how differences in design affect their ability to achieve different state education goals. The brief also includes specific comparisons between existing laws or pending legislation in 11 states.