The New York Times (hat tip to GE reader Twin Mom) had an interesting piece the other day about a program in Texas allowing kids who've demonstrated enough subject mastery to receive a certificate that can be traded in for a high school diploma. The standards for the certificate are set by the state's top two universities, Texas A&M and the University of Texas, and while it doesn't guarantee that a kid will be admitted to either, the idea is that the certificate shows she'd meet their criteria. That makes it a definite step above the GED (which adults can test for at later points in life) which, while certainly helpful for employment and community college enrollment, isn't treated quite the same as a diploma -- and certainly not a diploma that indicates you could have qualified for Texas A&M or UT.
I think this is a great idea, and I'm surprised the idea isn't more widespread. What is the point of high school, after all? Is it to impart to children a certain volume of knowledge (academics and citizenship) or is it a holding tank until they turn 18? If the former, then there's no reason that people who've demonstrated that they've learned what they're supposed to learn can't move on. Finishing high school early allows one to finish college early, and then pursue graduate education or other things, without the often compressed 20s timeline dragged on schooling offers.
Does anyone know of any other states looking into a similar idea?