Proos’ school dropout recovery program bill approved by panel

LANSING — The Michigan Senate Education Committee on Tuesday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos to create a framework for dropout recovery programs to effectively serve students who have already dropped out of school or who are at risk of doing so.

“In an increasingly digital economy, it is vital for every Michigan student to receive a quality education that culminates in a diploma and hopefully a college degree or advanced training,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The purpose of my bill is to give our schools the flexibility needed to best help at-risk and dropout students earn a high school diploma through a proven dropout recovery program.”

Senate Bill 969 would allow a school district to provide less than 1,098 hours and 170 days of instruction to a student who is enrolled in a certain type of dropout recovery program. The exemption is needed since students in certain programs usually do not require a full year of instruction to recover. The bill would also allow per-pupil funding on a monthly basis.

“We can look to Southwest Michigan for an example of a school effectively using one of these dropout recovery programs to help at-risk students,” Proos said. “At Bloomingdale High School, 25 percent of students were failing to graduate on time, which is not uncommon across the country. The district found an affordable solution to keep kids learning and on a graduation track, resulting in 87 percent of students being recovered in the program’s first year.”

House Bill 5267 would set the framework for what a qualified dropout recovery program would entail. The components would include a personalized learning plan, mentors, computer and internet access for each student, per-pupil progress and operating for an entire calendar year. An eligible pupil would have to be a student who has been expelled, suspended, referred by the court, pregnant or is a parent, or one who had previously dropped out or been determined by the district to be at risk of dropping out.

“The clearest way to illustrate the impact of recovering dropout students and helping them graduate is their expected increased earning potential,” Proos said. “A single class of new graduates would likely earn up to $193 million more than they would have without a high school diploma. Those increased earnings could also mean an additional $19 million annually in state tax revenue, $224 million in economic growth and thousands of new jobs in Michigan.” 

SB 969 and HB 5267 now head to the full Senate for further consideration.

Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at Click on “Podcasts.”