Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013 - (Page 18)

EDUCATION WEEK JUNE 6, 2013 Diplomas Count > www.edweek.org/go/dc13 n 18 | Tyler Singletary sings in the recording studio at Innovations High School in downtown Chicago. The school’s professional-quality recording studio and sound-engineering class helped motivate Devonte Perry-McCullum, who says, “The sound-engineering class was amazing for me. I adored it.” CIRCLING BACK Of the 4,000 students enrolled in one of the 22 Youth Connection charter schools in Chicago this school year, 1,000 are expected to graduate this month. Graduating students from three of the network’s schools— Innovations High School, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, and CCA Academy— share their stories. Photography by Philip Scott Andrews for Education Week Sound-Engineering Class Hooks Reluctant Student At every school he cycled through, teachers told Devonte PerryMcCullum’s mother how smart he was, how much potential her son was squandering. By his own account, he was a chronic ditcher. If he showed up for school at all, he was late. And at the end of his sophomore year at Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men, administrators told Perry-McCullum he’d fallen so far behind, he’d have to repeat 10th grade. He “sucked it up” and got through the first semester of his second sophomore year, he says. Then he slipped up again, began “hanging with the wrong crowd,” and missed most of the second semester. For the third straight year, he’d have to be a sophomore. Instead, Perry-McCullum transferred to Olive-Harvey Middle College, a small, alternative school on Chicago’s South Side that is one of the 22 campuses that make up the Youth Connection Charter School network. At first, it was a good fit. Perry-McCullum says he knew his teachers, they knew him, and he liked the challenge of taking college classes as part of the dual-enrollment program. “I was finally getting B’s and C’s,” he says. But that good start soon went awry, too. This time, it was fights with another student that led to Perry-McCullum being asked to leave the school. But the principal, like so many others, thought Perry-McCullum had promise and wanted him to get another chance. In fall 2012, with the help of the Olive-Harvey principal, the young man landed at Youth Connection’s Innovations High School in downtown Chicago. The school, which integrates the arts across its curriculum, exposed him to something he had never considered as a career: sound engineering. “I am not a very artistic person on paper,” PerryMcCullum says. “But the sound-engineering class was amazing for me. I adored it. I got to write and record my own commercial, learn the soundboard, and how to use Pro Tools,” the audio software widely used in recording and editing music, including film and television scores. “I never wanted to miss that class,” he says. That intense engagement, along with Innovations’ close-knit culture, has kept Perry-McCullum on track. He also credits the school’s rigorous grading policy— anything below 77 percent is considered failing—as a key motivator for keeping his grades high. He is due to graduate this month, and after applying to seven colleges and being accepted by six, he’ll attend either Prairie View a&m University or Paul Quinn College, both historically black institutions in Texas. “It feels good to make my mother proud,” PerryMcCullum says. “I’d deeply hurt her before when all those teachers kept telling her I was smart and capable —L.A.M. and could do so much better.” “It feels good to make my mother proud. I’d deeply hurt her before when all those teachers kept telling her I was smart.” DEVONTE PERRY-McCULLUM Innovations High School http://www.edweek.org/go/dc13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013

Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013
Contents
A ‘Neglected’ Population Goes Back to School
Age Can Determine Access To Free Education, Diploma Pathways
State Statistics and Strategies
High School Equivalency Test Gets a Makeover
Reasons to Stay: Tailored Interventions
Online Providers Find a Market In Returning Dropouts
Second-Chance Challenge: Keeping Students in School
A Chicago Charter Network Stanches The Flow of Dropouts
Sound-Engineering Class Hooks Reluctant Student
Teenage Father Makes Journey From Dropout to Top Student
Honor Student Disconnects, Re-engages at CCA
Graduation Rate Approaching Milestone
TABLE: Graduation in the United States
DATA: Detailed Analytic Portrait
TABLE: Graduation Policies For the Class of 2013
Sources and Notes

Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2013

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