“We need to change how we think about what it means to be a high school graduate. A diploma alone isn’t enough anymore,” said Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson as she and Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched ‘Learn. Plan. Succeed’ – a new graduation requirement that will ensure our students are looking beyond high school and to the career ahead.

This proposed new graduation requirement marks an important shift in mindset, because we firmly believe that a high school diploma must be a launching pad to the next stage of life. Under the proposed policy, the following concrete steps would meet the District’s proposed graduation requirement:

  • College acceptance letter
  • Military acceptance/enlistment letter
  • Acceptance at a job program (e.g. coding bootcamp)
  • Acceptance into a trades pre-apprenticeship/apprenticeship
  • Acceptance into a “gap-year” program
  • Current job/job offer letter

Additionally, LPS will take into consideration the needs of Chicago’s most vulnerable students. To ensure that the new requirement does not become a harmful barrier for some students, we are proposing some waivers, including:

  • Students with special life circumstances, including undocumented students
  • Currently incarcerated students
  • Students in Options schools/programs

As a District, we have long believed that our obligation to students extends beyond their time in our classrooms. That’s why we have embraced Mayor Emanuel’s goal of having 50 percent of students earn at least one college or career credential before graduating high school, and why we want them to have a plan in place for their futures before they leave our schools. With support from their counselors and teachers, they will begin to see graduation as a launching pad  toward a rewarding and meaningful future.

“Learn. Plan. Succeed.” is an evidence-based proposal that is the first of its kind in the country, and we remain committed to being a leader in preparing our students for college and career. We hope you are excited by this initiative, and look forward to helping make sure your children have a plan for success in college and career.

If approved by the Board of Education, ‘Learn. Plan. Succeed’ will begin with the Class of 2020 – this year’s 9th-grade students.