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Detroit charter schools raise graduation requirements

The authority board will oversee the state's new Education Achievement System.
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The authority board will oversee the state's new Education Achievement System.

The class of 2017 at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and Consortium College Prep High School has their work cut out for them.

The two Detroit schools chartered under the American Promise network are the first in the city to require students to pass at least one Advanced Placement course in order to graduate. Couple this with the expectation that all students gain admittance to at least two post-secondary institutions, and these kids have a challenging road ahead.

This coming fall, five AP classes will be rolled out in a test run for the two schools' highest-achieving students. The requirements that all students pass one of these classes will go into effect for the following academic year.

Darrin Camilleri is the lead social studies teacher at Consortium.

“Some of the background work behind this has been about making sure that our students have really rigorous coursework to prepare them for college,” Camilleri explained. “And not just to get into college but also to see them through college.”

This final bit is critical. Seeing Detroit students “though college” proves to be a challenge. Camilleri estimates that only one in ten low-income students who attends college actually graduates with a degree. This underscores the importance of challenging students with material similar to what they will see in their post-secondary education.  

Jeffrey Maxwell, the principal of Consortium College Prep, echoes Camilleri's sentiment. He describes his school's work as establishing "a new standard for what scholars in Detroit can achieve and revolutionizing the expectations for our scholars." 

Camilleri knows it will be a challenge but has a message for students: "You're going to get through it. You're going to get your degree. Maybe you're going to come back to Detroit, and you're going to make a difference."

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