Two Detroit Charter Schools to Require College Acceptance for Graduation


Two charter schools in Detroit are poised to become the first in the city to require students to take Advanced Placement courses and be accepted to at least two post-secondary institutions to be allowed to graduate.

The new rules will be implemented in phases at two charter schools in Detroit managed by American Promise Schools – the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and Consortium College Prep High School. Phase one will affect the class of 2016, requiring students to be accepted to two post-secondary institutions. Phase two will complete the process, affecting the class of 2017, who will be required to participate in Advanced Placement courses. Those students planning to go to college will be encouraged to participate in at least four such courses.

Wendell Hall, Senior Director for Policy at the College Board, said research has shown that students who participate in AP courses "are much more likely to go to college."

"We support raising standards for kids across the board," Bob Farrace, a spokesman for the secondary school principals' group, said. "However, requiring AP courses is one thing. Providing the kind of support for all kids across the board to be successful in those courses is a huge commitment that we're hoping (the schools are) willing to make."

According to Detroit native and former NBA player Jalen Rose, who made the announcement concerning the new rules at the school he founded, they will be the first schools in the city to adopt such policies, writes Lori Higgins for The Detroit Free Press.

Both schools already boast high graduation rates, with 91% of the classes of 2013-15 graduating from the Consortium College Prep school. Meanwhile, the Jalen Rose academy recently graduated its first class, so its graduation rate is not yet known, although predictions made by the president of American Promise Schools, Doug Ross, put the rate between 91% and 98%.

The average graduation rate across the state is 79%. Detroit Public Schools holds a rate of 71%, and the Education Achievement Authority, which includes some of the worst-performing schools in the state, has a graduation rate of 62%.

All schools in the state are required to follow the Michigan Merit Curriculum, which includes four credits each in math and English, three in social studies and science, one in physical education and art, two in a foreign language, and at least one online experience. One credit is typically equivalent to one year of study.

The two schools highlighted also require a set number of electives, as well as asking students to participate in community service in order to graduate. Rose added that it is important to the school to keep high graduation requirements while still ensuring that students can meet the goals and succeed in their future endeavors. "We want to expose them to the kind of rigor they will be exposed to in college, which is a major step," Rose said.

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