LANSING -- State Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township, says the mission of his bill is to get Michigan's students back on track.
"One, it gets them to start thinking about what they want to become, and two, it gives them the tools to achieve that," says Kahn, who doubles as a heart doctor.
The bill, introduced by Kahn and signed into law by former Governor Granholm, requires that each seventh grader in the state has the opportunity to create an educational development plan, or EDP (they're required to then review and/or revise it in eighth grade).
The goal being that, from a young age, they start taking the classes they'll need for their future careers.
"Graduation rates are a function of the kid's interest," Kahn says.
And there is little doubt that Michigan's students are in need of some direction. Just 30 percent of the state's eighth graders are proficient in math and reading, and a quarter of them don't graduate high school.
Which is why the new law also allows some students -- those with personal curriculums -- to substitute the state's Algebra II requirement with something more applicable for them, like, say statistics or functions.
"We're seeing some impact dealing with the number of kids that have not passed Algebra II," says state Rep. Tim Melton, D-Pontiac, who points out that this year's senior class is the first that will graduate under the requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum.
Reforms to the curriculum, like allowing some students to bypass the stricter math requirement, could be necessary.
And this new law, Melton says, attempts to account for those differences without watering down our standards.