New Haven Connecticut’s alternative “High School in the Community Academy for Law and Social Justice” made headlines last summer when the city turned management of the school over to the teacher’s union, the New Haven Federation of Teachers. This summer the small alternative high school is making headlines again. All 44 HSC freshmen failed to advance to sophomore classes. Many are currently taking summer school courses in order to achieve “mastery-based learning,” meaning a grade higher than a D in all of the 4 cores subjects.
Retaining the entire freshman class reduces stigma among peers in a class of 44 diverse students, but in other larger and more impersonal high school settings, such a policy risks dividing and alienating learners struggling to master advanced curriculum. This sort of experimentation is worthwhile in a setting like HSC, but my concern is that larger schools will try the same thing and end up increasing drop out rates and student frustration. College isn’t for everyone, and all students shouldn’t be required to master calculus or advanced chemistry.
Whatever happens promises to be noteworthy. The school’s website can be found here: http://www.highschoolinthecommunity.org/about/history-of-hsc/
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