Recently, the Legislature added a Revised School Code section to allow high school students to receive practical experience before graduation. MCL 380.1279h presents grades 9‑12 students (with a parent’s or guardian’s permission) with the option to receive school credit in exchange for the completion of an internship or work experience opportunity. To qualify for credit, students must attend the internship or work experience for at least four (4) hours per week for the same number of weeks that would be necessary to earn credit in the school district’s traditional courses. Qualifying students may not be compelled by a school board to attend the internship or work experience for more than ten (10) hours per week.
To comply with the new legislation, school districts must fulfill a short list of important responsibilities. A school board must ensure that qualified students are excused from at least one (1) period of instructional time for the internship or work experience opportunity. The board must also oversee students’ internships or work experiences to guarantee compliance with the new law.
School boards are entitled to deny high school credit under certain circumstances, for example: when a student has a history of course failure or is not on track to graduate in four (4) years; when a student fails to request credit for the internship or work experience before the student’s school schedule for that term is determined; or when the cost of oversight is too expensive, as calculated under MCL 380.1279h(4)(h). Please see the statute for a comprehensive list of situations where denial of credit is permitted. If a school board denies credit, the student may appeal to the superintendent of the relevant intermediate school district.
The above is merely a summary of the law passed by the Legislature, and more details are contained within the text of Section 1279h. Overall, the law is a clear message from the Legislature that Michigan will take strides to provide hands‑on, real‑world experience for students during their secondary education. We expect to see similar measures in the future and will monitor Michigan’s trend toward providing students with practical skills to assess the impact on clients.