The Chicago Board of Education recently approved a new policy that requires students graduating from public high schools to provide evidence that they have post-secondary plans in order to receive their high school diploma.
According to a press release from the Office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, students must present evidence of a college acceptance or "gap year" program, military enlistment, job program acceptance, or job offer.
"High school graduation is a milestone, not a destination," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Ensuring every student has a plan for success after high school is the right thing to do for our students’ futures, and the right thing to do for Chicago’s future."
This new graduation requirement, set to start with the class of 2020, is part of the Chicago Board of Education's "Learn. Plan. Succeed." initiative.
"We all need to change how we think about what it means to be a high school graduate -- a diploma isn't enough anymore," said Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson.
According to Chicago Public Schools, this new "Learn. Plan. Succeed." graduation requirement will take into consideration the needs of some at-risk student populations including undocumented students, currently incarcerated students, and students in "Options" or alternative school programs.
A University of Chicago Consortium on School Research study indicates that Chicago high school graduation rates have increased by 22 percentage points over the past 16 years, from 52.4 percent in 1998 to 74.9 percent in 2014. However, racial and ethnic gaps in high school graduation rates increased.
The data also show that 40 percent of high school graduates enroll in a four-year college and only 3 percent take an alternative route to a four-year degree.