State leaders are looking to increase postsecondary credential attainment to build the depth and breadth of their high-skilled labor force, and the concept of the 13th year has emerged as a model that can help do just that. The 13th year allows students to continue public schooling for an extra year beyond 12th grade at no additional cost, and graduate with both a high school diploma and an industry-relevant, transfer-ready associate degree. Based on research, there are four policy principles that are key to widescale implementation of the 13th year concept:
- Equitable student access. Strong postsecondary transition programs are equitably available to all students; further, statewide communication efforts ensure that students and parents are aware of the program, its benefits, and eligibility requirements.
- High-quality programs. High-quality postsecondary transition programs include rigorous courses whose content has been reviewed by secondary, postsecondary, and industry partners. One key indicator of program quality is the value of the credential obtained.
- Robust student supports. Effective, equitable postsecondary transition programs include robust academic and nonacademic student supports.
- Cross-sector program design. Strong postsecondary transition programs are built through the collective effort of multiple sectors.
A new Policy Guide from ECS explores these four principles and outlines examples in Colorado, Texas and Washington, which have codified policies that create a permissive policy landscape for 13th year implementation.