Charter school students rank high in admittance to selective enrollment high schools
Judged by the number of students admitted to selective enrollment high schools, the University of Chicago Charter School Carter G. Woodson Campus is outperforming more than 95 percent of Chicago schools that had at least one student admitted to a selective high school.
Of the 16 schools that had more students admitted to selective enrollment high schools than the Carter G. Woodson Campus, all but two were selective enrollment or magnet schools.
Jared Washington, director of the Carter G. Woodson Campus, says the school has been “very intentional and systematic,” citing three primary driving factors behind its success: ratcheting up the rigor, differentiated instruction, and the 6to16 program.
“At Carter G. Woodson, we are committed to pushing our kids to high levels in the classroom every day, and then stretching them even further than they thought they could go. A+ students are pushed beyond their grade level. Algebra I is offered to our eighth graders because we know they can do it,” said Washington.
Further pressing the importance of rigor, Washington said, “We teach kids how to think. For example, in a biology class that is discussing muscles in the human body, some learning might end at being lectured and taking notes. At our campus, our students are pushed to think critically, they are asked to explain to each other how the muscle systems work and discuss what it would mean to the system if one muscle no longer functioned. Their thinking is stretched.”
In addition to critical thinking exercises, learning is differentiated as much as possible. Advanced students are not stymied and struggling students can get the necessary targeted learning. For example, the campus has “Remix Fridays” every week. During these sessions, students are broken into groups based on their Northwest Evaluation Association (NEWA) results or where their teachers assess them that week in literacy, math and science. As a result, students get the attention in the learning and skill-building areas where they need it most.
Differentiated instruction is continued through Odyssey’s Compass Learning, which refers to data based, individualized learning plans that students can access online. Compass Learning imports each Carter G. Woodson student’s data from the NEWA assessments into its system, and based on where each student is achieving, builds online learning exercises and tutorials targeted to them.
Another important piece is the 6to16 high school and college readiness curriculum. “6to16 supports the rigor in our classrooms by bringing the awareness piece to our students,” said Washington. “Through 6to16, our students learn what it takes to compete with the top students in Chicago for a place in a selective enrollment. They know what that looks like and how the process works.”
“Our goal is to get every middle school student to understand what it takes to become a successful student in high school and college and to apply the behaviors needed to become that person,” said Veronica Herrero, director of 6to16.
“Some of the essential components of the 6to16 middle school curriculum include interactive, online and classroom exercises that guide students in analyzing their strengths, assets and interests, while setting short- and long-term goals.
These exercises allow students to think critically about which high school will be the best fit, and what they need to do to develop into excellent candidates for schools of choice. These consistent and focused conversations ensure that going to the best high school is not an afterthought, but something that the student has been planning all along, said Herrero.”
The University of Chicago Charter school, which has four campuses, is operated by the Urban Education Institute.
Follow UChicago’s social media sites, news feeds and mobile suite.