For some low income and minority students, graduating high school, much less college, can seem like a daunting task. These students graduate at lower rates than their higher-income peers, leading to what experts call an "achievement gap". Studies show that the achievement gap persists partly because those who do not have a parent who has graduated from high school or college are unlikely to do so themselves.
However, one Seattle non-profit called Rainier Scholars is trying to reverse the trend of the achievement gap by identifying students with high barriers to higher education, and them asking them to commit to not just finishing high school, but graduating from college as well.
The program accepts kids as young as ten, and takes them into to a year-round enrichment program that includes two years of full-time summer school, weekend classes and ongoing academic support and leadership training.
Although the additional workload is significant, for highly motivated students it is the price of success. The first three cohorts to graduate from the program have done so with a 100 percent high school graduation and college admissions rate; an almost unheard-of record for any group of high-schoolers.
While costs for each student can run up to $40,000 over the course of the program, Rainier Scholars founder Bob Hurlbut sees it as a price well worth paying to give the opportunity of a higher education to those who those who don't often see such opportunities come their way.
"I try to treat [all the students] as though they are going to be consequential people, and we work back from there. And I find that if you treat them like they actually have a future, they tend to have one." - Drego Little, teacher.
1. Have you ever gone to summer school? Do you think it helped your performance in school?
2. Is college in your future? If so, when did you first start planning for college?
3. Do you know of any academic resources outside of school that can help you with your academic work? Have you ever taken advantage of these resources?
1. Do you think your family life has significantly affected your performance in school? Why or why not?
2. Do you think the school system does enough to try to give equal opportunities to all students? Why or why not?
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