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In 2011, Kentucky's smart sophomores could graduate two years early

Some of Kentucky's smartest sophomores could soon skip their junior and senior years. In 2011, the state will be among eight states to start a pilot program to allow students to get their diplomas up to two years early.

"What it's all about, we've got over 6,000 kids dropped out of school in Kentucky this year, and many of them could do college work," said state education commissioner Dr. Terry Holliday. "It's just we haven't found the thing that interests them. The thing that excites them about education."

Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, tenth graders in certain high schools who pass specialized tests in key subjects could graduate early and enroll in college. Students who pass but prefer to stay in high school to complete their regular junior and senior years could do so as well.

Those who fail the tests -- called board exams -- in the tenth grade could try again the next year.

The goal is to reform high school education. Rather than a diploma reflecting time spent in the classroom, it would reflect the mastery of the course work.

Eighteen high schools in 13 Kentucky counties have already expressed interest in becoming pilot schools.

Bell County: Middlesboro High School
Bourbon County: Paris High School
Boyle County: Danville High School
Bullitt County: Bullitt East High School and North Bullitt High School
Estill County: Estill County High School
Franklin County: Western Hills High School and Franklin County High School
Graves County: Graves County High School
Kenton County: Dixie Heights High School, Simon Kenton High School, and Scott High School
Logan County: Logan County High School
Madison County: Madison Central High School and Madison Southern High School
Nelson County: Nelson County High School
Washington County: Washington County High School
Woodford County: Woodford County High School

"We don't anticipate this program having a cost factor over the long run. In fact, we anticipate the program as saving money in the long run," said Dr. Holliday.

On Monday, representatives from the schools interested in implementing the graduate early program will meet in Frankfort with education personnel to discuss how to best implement the program.

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