Md. Accelerator Schools To Speed Pupils To Diploma

In Baltimore, Maryland, three new accelerator schools have opened this year to helping struggling high school students graduate on time. As the article below reports, the school system has hired a consulting firm, One Bright Ray, which has also successfully established two other alternative schools based in Philadelphia. According to the Alternative Schools Project, funded in 2001 by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education, there are more than 20,000 alternative schools in operation in the United States.

The ASCD, a national membership organization devoted to school reform, reports the national drop out rate at 1 out of 3 students and almost half for minorities. This means in a classroom of 30 freshmen, 9 will drop out, typically between their freshman and sophomore years. By the time they are 18 years old, only 10 will have the skills necessary to succeed in a job or master college-level work; 4 will be unemployed; 3 will end up on government assistance; and 2 will have no health insurance. Even more dismally, drops outs are eight times more likely to go to jail. When students are asked why they quit school, the majority say “boredom.”

What can educators do to inspire students and help them create a vision for their future?

What else can we do to not only place these students on a trajectory for success but motivate them to persist with their educational and career goals?

What can policy makers and school leaders do to establish student success and transition programs in every school so that students get off to the best start possible?

How can we best prepare students so they’re ready for the world beyond formal education?

We all pay when students don’t learn and achieve at their highest potentials. As educators and parents, we must teach students that they are important and unique and that their impact on the world is priceless.

AARON MORRISON, Associated Press Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) ― Shane Smith is already two years behind in school. But as he started classes Monday at a new high school, he planned to speed through his freshman and sophomore years in nine months.

That’s a tough order for a 16-year-old who should be in the 11th grade but has struggled academically, in part due to the death of his father when he was a boy.

However, organizers of one of Baltimore’s three new accelerator schools say frequent testing, extracurricular activities and high expectations will get students such as Smith on track and keep them there.

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