Back on Track

America has a massive high school drop out problem.  About half of low income African American and Hispanic males drop out.  New school models blending online and onsite learning hold the promise of reengaging students and boosting gradution rates.
AdvancePath, where I’m a director, serves almost 4,000 over-aged and under-credited students nationally.   More than half are Hispanic, more than more than 60% are male.  Students range from 15 to 19 years old.  The largest number of students are 17 years old and they are, on average, 1.2 years behind academically.
Before enrolling, the average student is earning credits at one quarter the typical rate (i.e., index of 0.28).  After enrolling, their credit accumulation rate nearly quadruples to a rate of 1.3 times the typical high school student.  The dramatic increase in the pace of learning is a function of improved attendance, a professional academy atmosphere with high expectations, credit for demonstrated knowledge (i.e., students that can test out of a section/course), engagement and time on task.
Almost 9 of 10 AdvancePath students are successful—graduating, continuing, or transitioning to graduation at their home high school.  Regardless of ethnicity, AdvancePath students have nearly equal credit attainment gains.
AdvancePath remodels a 3,000sf facility and can open an Academy with 45 days notice. Some sites serve as an academy in a large traditional high school.  In other cases, AdvancePath is a district wide option.  They hire district teachers.  The district usually saves money and gains 2-3 points in their graduation rates immediately—and that’s a pretty good deal for districts, high schools, and students.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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