NPR reported that 100% of the graduates of a struggling high school are going to college.
Usually, we hear this about charter schools, but they usually forget to tell you how many students dropped out before reaching 12th grade or graduation. Nor do they refer to test scores. Urban Academy in Chicago, for example, is celebrated in the media for getting 100% of its graduates into college but the stories never mention the attrition rates or the fact that the charter school scores’ are lower than those of the average Chicago public high school.
Ballou High School in D.C. is in the midst of one of The city’s poorest neighborhoods.
“Last school year, the graduation rate was just 57 percent. And, when it came to meeting citywide standards in English, only 3 percent of students passed. No one passed the math.
“While every one of the 190 seniors was accepted to college, that doesn’t include the students who have dropped out in the four years along the way.”
This is what they never tell you about charters.
“So how did this dream become a reality? It started with a pledge from the class of 2017 when they were just juniors looking ahead to their final year of high school.
“But it was a strong support system within D.C. Public Schools that made it a reality. For months and months, staff tracked students’ success, often working side-by-side with them in the school library on college applications, often encouraging them to apply to schools where data show D.C. students perform well.
“And then there was money. Grants, donations and district funds took students on college tours around the country. The school kept spirits and motivation up with pep rallies, T-shirts and free food. When college acceptance letters started rolling in, Trayvon says it was a wake-up call for a lot of his friends.
“But it wasn’t a year without struggle. More than a quarter of the teaching staff quit before the end of the school year — that’s not usually a good sign. And out of the nearly 200 graduates, 26, are still working toward their high school graduation — hoping to earn their diploma in August.”
Not easy. Not simple. Lots of struggles. Extra money. Setbacks. Mission accomplished. Until someone decides to take over the school and hand it off to a corporate chain of charters.
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