Legislation affects valedictorians who don’t go to their high school

Georgia lawmakers want to protect the state’s fast-growing educational program that lets high school students “dual enroll” in college.

House Bill 114, passed with bipartisan support last week by the House of Representatives, prohibits school districts from denying dual-enrolled students a shot at becoming their high school valedictorian or salutatorian.

The distinction is an asset when applying to college and seeking scholarships, but there has been at least one case in which a high school valedictorian never actually took a class on the high school campus. This prompted policy changes that required students to take courses on campus to be in the running for the honor. The dual-enrollment program vexed school officials and courted controversy because of differences in the formula used to calculate the grade point average of students who were and were not dual-enrolled.

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But dual enrollment, which is quickly gaining popularity in the state, has been a priority in the General Assembly in recent years. On March 1, the House voted 161-5 for HB 114, which now goes to the Senate.

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The bill, by Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella, prohibits school districts from excluding students from valedictorian or salutatorian determinations just because they’ve taken “one or more” dual credit courses. There’s an exception for students who move into a district after their sophomore year and don’t take any courses at the high school. Otherwise, with thousands now participating in the program, the new mandate, should it become law, will likely generate discussions in school districts across the state.

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