Legislature Passes Bill To Expand Options For Students To Get High School Diploma

Jul 20, 2017

Adults in Illinois who failed to graduate from high school still can earn a General Educational Development certificate, also known as a GED.

Credit "Cap and Diploma" by Flickr User bluefieldphotos bp / (CC X 2.0)

But legislation approved by the General Assembly would provide what some consider to be a better alternative.

Students leave high school for a variety of reasons. Some drop out because of family obligations, financial pressures, or lack of motivation. Some are pushed out due to disciplinary problems. Once they reach age 21, their only option is to get a GED.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, sponsored a bill that would allow non-profits, like Goodwill, to partner with regional education offices and offer high-school completion programs that give out diplomas. Stories from states that already do this persuaded him it would be good for Illinois.

“People get their high school diploma, and then they do go on to become working members of society," he said. "And that’s the important part, is, you know, one person at a time, making a difference in people’s lives.”

He says a GED doesn’t always open as many doors as a diploma.

“So it’s very important for getting past that stigma of not having a high school diploma so they can work with students of any age past normal high school ages and then also deliver a certificate program along with that so they’ll be able to hopefully go straight from the classroom right into a job,” he said.

The measure passed both chambers unanimously but has yet to reach the governor for consideration.