Turning 16 in America means reaching the quintessential teen milestone: obtaining your driver’s license! However, what if your grades
could prevent you from getting your driver’s license?
Indeed, many public high schools, school districts, and even states across the nation have implemented rules that require students to maintain a specific grade point average in order to legally obtain and carry a driver’s license.
In an effort to encourage better academic performance, public high schools are applying the “carrot and stick” philosophy to their student’s licenses – and the results have been intriguing.
Driving up Student Success
Linking student grades with driving privileges is a relatively new practice, and one of the most recent states to mandate student driving laws is West Virginia. According to The Intelligencer
, the West Virginia Legislature recently amended its current teen driving law, granting the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles the permission and authority to revoke any student’s driver’s license due to poor grades or attendance
. Although the law does not currently outline a minimum GPA that students must maintain to preserve their driving privileges, the revised law states that student must uphold “adequate academic progress.”
Most high school students pursuing classes full time will take eight credits
each semester, and therefore, many West Virginia school leaders plan to report students with a GPA of 2.0 or lower to the state. Similarly, school officials are required to report students that have significant attendance issues. However, exceptions may be made regarding both the GPA and attendance regulations if a student is enrolled in a GED program, or if a student has “extenuating circumstances,” such as a medical issue or other personally relevant situation.
If a student does not meet “adequate academic progress,” then state authorities have the power to revoke the license for “either a semester or a year, depending on how long it takes that student to show sufficient progress.”
While some may argue that the new legislation seems drastic, some educators believe that the change was critically needed. For example, as the program director for Wetzel County Schools in West Virginia asserts, the policy has been needed to combat the issues of poor grades and low attendance in their local schools. Along this line, the program director, “Noted in West Virginia, students who commit a Level 4 offense
, those which would constitute a felony if the student were an adult, also have their licenses taken away… ‘It makes kids more accountable on their behavior as well as academics.’”
Schools Taking the Driver’s Wheel
Even though most states do not have legislation linking driving privileges with students’ academic performance, some schools have taken matters into their own hands. These public schools have created guidelines that impact the driving privileges students have in coming and leaving campus.
For example, Floyd Central High School
(FCHS), located in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, prohibits students from driving to and from school if they fail to meet the FCHS attendance standards. Specifically, if a student acquires 10 absences, tardies, or early departures, then he or she may be subject to driving privilege restrictions.
In further evaluating the rules, if the incidents of tardies, absences, or early leaves negatively impact a student’s grades, then school leaders will implement intervention strategies:
- First, the school must have a record of ongoing communication with parents to notify parents of a student’s absence issues.
- Secondly, the parents and student must be sent an academic impact statement that clearly states the student’s performance issues and grades.
- Lastly, the school must have a record of students’ missed class periods (due to absence or tardy issues).
As FCHS articulates, the attendance and performance policy, which was originally formulated by the Board of School Trustees, places the onus of school attendance and performance directly on students’ and guardians’ shoulders.
Additionally, according to the FCHS rules and statements of consequence, “To maintain driving privileges on the Floyd Central campus, a student must be in good standing in the areas of academics (passing five classes) and attendance (fewer than ten absences for the semester).”
Expanding on these expectations, students permitted to drive to campus must also have a positive disciplinary record, free of any occurrences of suspension and/or excessive demerits, while “driving privileges may also be revoked for excessive tardies to school or truancy from school.”
Public schools today are taking more proactive measures to improve student performance – which means more and more campuses may soon get behind the driving wheel.