Law asks panel to hike graduation rate in Illinois
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois created a panel tasked with helping increase high school graduation rates under a trio of education bills Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law on Wednesday.
The Commission for High School Graduation Achievement and Success will look at alternative education programs to help keep at-risk students in class. The group has to present its findings to Quinn and lawmakers by Nov. 1.
"The number one job of state government ... is education," Quinn said during a bill-signing event at a middle school on Chicago's South Side.
The watered-down bill had originally attempted to raise the dropout age in Illinois from 17 to 18, an idea that Quinn pushed. However, that idea never made it out of committee and was dumped by lawmakers once it was obvious there wasn't enough money to support it.
More than 18,000 high school students in Illinois dropped out in the 2010-2011 school year. That's out of a total of 636,000 students.
The state most recently raised its dropout age from 16 to 17 years old in 2005 under Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The other laws signed Wednesday require Illinois schools to make health exam statistics, including immunizations, more readily available to the public. A third creates a program to help students of different backgrounds break down barriers. Both of those laws take effect immediately.