Five years ago Pharr San Juan Alamo (PSJA) Independent School District in South Texas was a dropout district. Only around half of all PSJA students graduated with their high school diploma, and very few went on to take college courses. Then Daniel King took the daunting post of PSJA District Superintendent and set about trying to fix the dropout problem.
Unlike his counterparts at other districts around the country, King decided to tackle the dropout crisis by working with young adults who had already made the decision to leave school. With a bold plan that included taking to the streets to track down every missing student, King and his staff managed to lure most failed seniors back into school by admitting them to the newly founded College Career and Technology Academy where they could take classes for college credit.
While this may seem contradictory, letting kids who didn't finish high school start college, King bet on the idea that students would respond positively to higher expectations. Early indicators suggest that King's bet was a smart one, but he will face even greater challenges when he tries to implement his strategy more broadly in his district's large comprehensive high schools.
"The classes are harder because they expect more from you. And I think that's something good because, when the teacher expects more from me, I try harder." -Raul Morales, Student.
1. How are college classes different from high school classes?
2. Where is the PSJA Independent School District?
3. What did the Superintendent offer students to get them to come back to school?
1. Why might a student drop out of high school?
2. How would not getting a high school diploma affect your life?
3. Why might a dropout see college credit as an incentive to come back to high school?
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