high school


Education is one of the best ways to get ahead in America. So, why do so many young people from poor backgrounds drop out? An economic paper published this month by the Brookings Institution suggests one possible answer, and it has nothing to do with grades or test scores. Maybe, for kids who grow up poor, with evidence of inequality all around them, dropping out of school just seems like the rational choice. 

It should be the opposite. Most economists would say, kids who start out at the bottom of the economic heap should have the incentive to get as much education as possible. Many economists believe the problem really comes down to skills. Young people trying to climb up out of poverty want to be highly educated, the thinking goes. They just don't get the right skills and training along the way. In this model, the education system itself is where the problem occurs, and that's where the fix is needed.

But the new Brookings paper by economists Melissa Kearney and Philip Levine (who we previously mentioned here) suggests the problem lies elsewhere.

Brittany Bartkowiak / Michigan Radio

Students across Michigan are in their senior year of high school, gearing up for graduation and trying to make plans for what to do next. The popular narrative is that you get your high school diploma, go to college, and then embark on a career in a field related to your degree. 

But it doesn't always work that way. Life after high school now is more complicated than that for a lot of young people in Michigan.

What's the best way for these students to build a future for themselves?

Which direction are you going after high school?

Oct 8, 2015
Mike Carney / Flickr Creative Commons

With college costs on the rise, more low-income students are questioning whether attending a university is the best direction to go after graduating high school. Does community college make more sense? Is a Job Corps program or the military a better fit? 

U.S. Department of Education

Last week I did a story about credit recovery and one high school's use of the online, after-school program to keep students at risk of failing "recover" credits to stay on track for graduation. But there's just one catch: we know next to nothing about these credit recovery programs.

Andrea Claire Maio

Cody High School is on Detroit’s west side, in a neighborhood that struggles with blight, drugs and gangs.

As Cody football coach Jimmie Knight says, "everybody wants to be out the neighborhood ... but more people still stuck here than ever."

So how do you get out? Well, first you have to graduate high school. For students who are on the brink, that’s where Knight comes in. He grew up in the Cody neighborhood, and moved back several years ago to help kids from the neighborhood graduate and find a way out.

user Frank Juarez / Flikr

I've been spending a lot of time at Cody's Medicine and Community Health Academy in Detroit for our next State of Opportunity documentary, and I thought I'd use today's blog post to highlight a few observations. But before I do, there are a few things you need to know about Cody: 

classroom desks
alamosbasement / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Our colleague Jake Neher with the Michigan Public Radio Network filed a story today on high school dropout rate data. Turns out Michigan used to be really bad at calculating the dropout rate.

Neher says a 2006 state audit found the Center for Education Performance and Information (CEPI) was "not providing reliable data on high school dropouts." But Neher says CEPI has stepped up its game, thanks in large part to a new system that "tracks students through their school careers." Lawmakers also passed legislation to allow the state to "access school records that are critical for calculating graduation and dropout rates."

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

School is almost over for the year, and one Detroit high school has lots to celebrate. The entire graduating class has been accepted to college. Nearly all of the students live in poverty, and most of them are the first in their family to go to college. So what's the secret to their success? 

The school that works – literally.

Four days a week, Idalis Longoria does what pretty much all high school juniors do: She goes to school, takes notes in class, and hangs out with her friends in the cafeteria during lunchtime.

But on the fifth day of the week, Longoria trades in her Catholic school uniform for a pair of light-blue scrubs and makes her way around the birthing floor for her “rounds” at St. Mary’s Hospital near Detroit.

Believe it or not, her hospital rounds are her homework. See, Longoria, who’s 17 years old, goes to Cristo Rey. It’s a college prep catholic high school in Detroit, one of 25 around the country. The Cristo Rey schools are specifically for low-income kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford private school. The vast majority of students are either Hispanic, like Longoria, or black.

Here’s how it works: One day a week, beginning freshman year, the students go to work for a white-collar company – a law firm, say, or the information technology department at Chrysler. The company, in turn, agrees to pay most of the student’s school tuition. 

The GED exam is getting an overhaul

Jan 3, 2014

The General Equivalency Diploma exam, better known as the GED test is harder as of today.

American Radio Works has done an impressive series on the history of the GED and what the new test will be like. Reporter Emily Hanford explains that while the military developed the GED in the early 1940's, they are now loathe to accept recruits with only a GED. They do not in fact see it as equivalent to a high school diploma. 

Bridge Magazine compares the rates of kids in Michigan taking Advanced Placement classes to the rest of the country, and it's not good. Many fewer kids in Michigan are enrolled in AP classes than the rest of the nation. And the numbers for low-income kids and African American kids are pretty dismal. It's a problem that has implications for getting into college and the cost of college, not to mention offering all students a challenging curriculum.