University charter school

A charter school run by UC-San Diego is sending 50 of its first 55 graduates to four-year colleges, reports the Chicago Tribune. The Preuss School, which runs from 6th through 12th grade, uses a lottery to pick low-income students, most of whom are racial and ethnic minorities. Two-thirds of the first graduating class was admitted to UC schools.

One word characterizes Preuss: more. The school year is nearly a month longer. The school day is an hour longer. Classes are intense, scheduled in every-other-day blocks that run for 1 hour, 42 minutes, rather than the typical 55 minutes. Some students return for Saturday-morning sessions.

One senior, David Iaea, who is headed to New York University, says with a nod toward the brutal schedule, “College will be a breeze after Preuss.”

. . . The school’s expectations are bearing fruit. Despite long commutes for many, student attendance is at 98 percent. All of Preuss’ high school students take the SAT, compared with about half of all high school students in California. And all Preuss high school students complete the courses required by the state’s public university systems for admission, compared with about a third of all high school students statewide.

Not everyone makes it through. But those who do will be the first in their families to attend college.

At Downtown College Prep in San Jose, the school I’m following, 92 percent of seniors have been admitted to four-year colleges so far. The goal is 100 percent. As at Preuss, students must complete the college-prep sequence required by public universities to earn a diploma.

About Joanne


  1. Is sending almost all students to college the correct goal for this kind of school?

  2. It might be, if the school is a college prep school.

  3. This school was set up as a college-prep school. Students who don’t want to qualify for college should choose to go elsewhere. Small schools work best when they focus on a mission rather than trying to be all things to all students.

    What’s unfortunate is that there aren’t good options for students who want an education that will enable them to learn skilled jobs. The alternative to college prep is the “general” track, which prepares students for nothing in particular.

  4. Rita C. says:

    Block scheduling is not particuarly unusual. Many teachers and students find it a lot *less* grueling than the 55-minute schedule.

  5. Way to go, my alma mater!

  6. P. K. Pruitt says:

    I think this is a good start but I am curious to see how many of these students actually graduate from college. I hope that most will graduate but Joanne’s article on April 14, 2004, makes me doubt they will.

  7. Downtown College Prep has hired a counselor who will visit graduates at their colleges and keep in touch via e-mail to help them deal with problems and stay on track to earn a college degree. This kind of support is important for students who will be the first in their families to go to college.

  8. Actually, given recent articles on vocational education (where many entry level persons starting out in the trades need to be sent to remediation on english and math), one could argue that rigorous classwork in high school could prepare a student to succeed in either field.

    Many community and junior colleges are offering 2-year degree programs in Automotive, HVAC, electronics/electrician, welding, and many other fields which need more education than the trades required 25 years ago.

    Just food for thought…

  9. lindenen says:

    Why is it seemingly so difficult to do this to every school in the school system? They could start the school year and the kids who won’t work or cause too many problems can be moved to other schools so the serious kids can do their work. Why can’t this sort of system extend everywhere?