You are probably aware of the “achievement gap” most educators and policymakers discuss when addressing the challenges inner-city schools face. It is real. Many low-income and minority students arrive at schools 2-3 years below grade level and schools are tasked with the challenge of closing that achievement gap in short order. Schools attack this challenge in many ways, but few, if any do what we do. I believe it is more than a “task” challenge for schools, it’s a psychological challenge, too. Our society generaly believes inner city students are woefully behind, thus society has little faith in their abilities to succeed. Sure, schools use a lot of words of encouragement hoping to inspire students to succeed, and yes, schools do a lot of tutoring and additional work, but if students don’t actually believe they can succeed at the next level, many won’t. If students don’t see themselves in college and in career positions, many won’t actually believe they can achieve and succeed at that level. Thus, closing the achievement gap is a continuous problem and indeed the gap gets worse.
Well, at GEO, I think we are on to something and the proof is in our results.
Our students are jumping over the achievement gap.
Above, is Raven. She earned four degrees in four years time while attending our Gary school. She earned a career certification, an associate degree, a Bachelor’s degree from Purdue, and a high school diploma (in that order) while in our school. The students below, Arianna and Brianna (left to right), earned full associate degrees last year (despite Covid 19), and they were juniors. We have many other students who have done what these three students have done, and many more in the cue, too. That’s jumping the achievement gap.
How do they do this?
We empower, support and believe in our students. We plan their high school journey to get the biggest return on their four-year investment of time with us. And yes, we budget to support our students to succeed. We don’t limit our efforts to college and career exposure and workshops, we place our students in real college classes on college campuses so they can earn real college and career credits. These efforts have a huge and positive psychological impact on our students.
When you are in discussions about closing the achievement gap, ask what schools are doing to change the psychology, the expectations of outcomes. Ask schools to tell you how they are going beyond the talk of college and careers and how they are empowering, budgeting and supporting students to be successful in college and careers while students are in high school. Let’s change the conversation from closing the achievement gap to jumping the achievement gap. It can be done!
Yes, it’s fun changing the world together! Join us. You will be glad you did!