To help more students achieve success, Michigan should pursue a flexible funding program that gives learners greater agency, especially for middle-school and secondary students and their families. Charting a path to complete a diploma, every student should be allowed to use a portion of their per-pupil allotment to “purchase” courses from schools for both online and face-to-face instruction. This funding could also be used for dual-enrollment classes, apprenticeships, career and technical training and other learning opportunities from a broad menu of providers.
Accountability for this spending can be achieved through tested and reported measures of academic growth or existing industry certification processes. A portion of funds should be tied to successful course completion. Additional moneys could be reserved for services that support learning – such as counseling, transportation, tutoring or speech therapy. While students across the state should have the option to customize their education, it could especially benefit those in rural areas and from low-income families whose learning opportunities tend to be limited by geographical factors and affordability.