Authored by Getting Smart, in partnership with University Academy

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University Academy (UA) is a K–12 charter school located in Kansas City, MO, serving just over 1,000 students. Ninety-eight percent of these students are African-American, and 70% are socio-economically disadvantaged. Over the past six years, the school has risen to become one of the most elite public schools in the state.

In 2016, the Upper School (grades 9–12) had the highest standardized state test scores in Missouri, including 100% proficiency on the Algebra I exam. The class of 2015 earned a combined $6.3 million in college scholarships, as well as the school’s first Ivy League acceptance.

Since 2004, 100% of UA graduates have been accepted to college, and almost 60% graduate with a BA or higher. By contrast, the national average for low-income college graduation is 9%.

So what makes UA different? Is the commitment and dedication of its founders and long-time board members? Is it the 23 community partners that help offer an array of enrichment programs to the students? Is it the high-level rigor of instruction and focus on mastery learning that leads to these results? Or is it a combination of these things and more?

We spent several weeks learning more about UA’s approach so we could answer these questions. We believe the key to the school’s success is the mindset and belief that all kids can achieve if provided the same opportunities afforded to those in the wealthiest communities.

Download the Getting Smart on Closing the Opportunity Gap bundle today.

To learn more about how University Academy is addressing the achievement gap by closing the opportunity gap and check out the individual components of this “Smart Bundle” collection, see the following blogs:


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