*The following is excerpted from an online article from U.S. News & World Report.
Some teens are staying in high school for an extra year for 13th grade to earn associate degrees or substantial college credits for free or at a reduced cost.
"It allows students to get that head start in college in a way that provides support," says Elisabeth Barnett, an expert on high school to college transition at Teachers College, Columbia University, on the emergence of five-year high schools.
Some five-year programs can be found in early college high schools – a type of school that offers a combined curriculum of both high school and college courses. Classic early college high schools are located on or near college campuses, says Barnett. In four or five years a student could earn an associate degree.
Admissions into these schools varies, she says, but generally students have to apply or they might have to be selected in a lottery to attend this type of public school.
Typically these programs are geared toward underserved students, such as those who are the first in their families to go to college, says Barnett. The extra support from the high school team is supposed to help students persist and succeed in college, she says.
But 13th grade hasn’t been limited to distinct early college high schools. Some traditional high schools are starting to offer fifth-year programs where a high schooler could choose to stay for an extra year and take free or cheaper college courses, says Barnett.
In Oregon, for example, a number of high schools are allowing students to technically remain a high school student for a fifth year so that the district can give these students funding to attend their first year of community college for free.
As in the early college high schools, districts typically offer resources to students to help them stay on track during their first year of college.
Source: U.S. News & World Report