A recent survey by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice found that students who participate in the privately-funded Baltimore school choice program, set up for students of low-income families, are on average graduating high school earlier than those students who are not part of the program and are attending college at higher rates than local and national averages.
Released this week, the survey, called "The Achievement Checkup," looked at the progress of students who received private school scholarships through the Children's Scholarship Fund Baltimore from kindergarten through the eighth grade.
Author Alex Schuh discovered that 18% of students who received the scholarship graduated high school within three years. National data finds this percentage to be 2.9% for students who do not have the scholarship offered to them. On a local level, 97% of scholarship students graduated high school. Meanwhile, the graduation rate at Baltimore County Public Schools is 34 to 64%.
Once they have graduated, 84% of scholarship students go on to attend college. On a national level, around 66% of high school graduates were found to have attended college in 2013. Locally, 45% of graduates from Baltimore enrolled in a college program.
"School choice programs are definitely producing highly-motivated students," said Robert C. Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. "With the growing number of new school choice programs out there, this shows there is a need for more academic research why these children graduate sooner and attend college in greater numbers than their peers."
In addition, Schuh found that 73% of students who obtained a scholarship enrolled in a four-year university rather than a two-year institution, 20% higher than graduates from Baltimore without the scholarship.
The study also looked at the parents of scholarship students, finding that 98% of parents felt that attending college was an important step for their children.
"Many education experts have gone on record saying the lack of involvement of impoverished parents is at the root of the nation's education woes," Enlow said. "This study confirms that low-income families absolutely value education. They certainly don't have low expectations for their children."
Meanwhile in Baltimore County, Superintendent Dallas Dance gave his 2015 State of the Schools speech, praising the strengths of the school system while also looking ahead to future expectations, reports Katrina Bush for ABC 2 News.
His speech outlined his strategic 5-year plan, Blueprint 2.0, which will focus on four areas, including academics, safety, communication and organization in an effort to build upon the success of the previous Blueprint for Success plan.
In addition, ten lighthouse schools have implemented the new Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow, or STAT, which promises to offer a digital device to every student and teacher. The program is expected to move within schools across the county in the next few years.