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The importance of a college-prep curriculum extends far beyond the students who may ultimately apply to some of the nation’s most elite universities. College-prep
programs have the potential to change the course of a student’s adult life. Attending college is a realistic goal, well within the reach of any student whose school starts
preparing the student early and convinces the student that college is attainable and valuable.
Many underserved high school students feel ‘going to college’ does not apply to them because it has never been reflected in their families’ or their communities’ experiences. Yet, the benefits of going to college and earning a degree extend far beyond getting a good career and earning a decent income.
College-prep at Sonoran Schools encompasses:
In its 2018 College Enrollment & Completion Report, the Arizona Board of Regents stated:
Current enrollment data reflects that in 2017, nearly half – 47.4 percent − of Arizona’s high school graduating class did not enroll in a two- or four-year college after graduation, a rate that has remained static over the past two years. This substantially lags the national average.
If educational attainment trends stay on their current trajectory, only 17.2 percent of today’s ninth graders will graduate from a four-year college by 2028.
Yet, according to a report from Georgetown University, “Recovery: Job Growth and Educational Requirements through 2020”, 65% of all jobs in the U.S.A. will require post-secondary education, and a key finding is that ‘employers will seek cognitive skills such as communication and analytics from job applicants’.
College-prep is therefore a vital component of our commitment to our students. In a state where 30% of the public high schools produce 83% of its college graduates, a college-prep high school environment is critical to moving that needle, improving student achievement, and preparing students for life in the real world
Those who do not finish high school are much more likely to be unemployed, and when employed, their earnings fall far below those with a high school degree or higher - the economic consequences of that also affecting the wider community.
College-prep at Sonoran Schools is:
At Sonoran Schools, we commit to providing students with the tools and support to begin the journey toward college. As college-prep academies, we expect our students to graduate, fully prepared to enter college and be successful.
College awareness and readiness are embedded in our culture and curriculum, beginning in elementary school. We offer classes in middle school to help students develop skills and maturity, and offer career exploration classes in middle and high school.
As STEM-focused, college-prep public charter schools, we choose to hold our students accountable to the following minimum graduation standards:
Mathematics: 4 credits
Language Arts: 4 credits
Science: 3 credits
Social Studies: 3 credits
World Language: 2 credits
Technology/Engineering: 2 credits
Fine Arts: 1 credit
Physical Education: 1 credit
General Electives: 2 credits
Community Service: 20 hours
Students also have the option of choosing to pursue one of two more rigorous graduation tracks, as well as pursuing a STEM distinction on their diploma. The more rigorous tracks increase the science, world language, and community service requirements, have a minimum GPA requirement, and add minimum requirements for Advance Placement exams and scores.
The STEM distinction increases the math, science, and technology/ engineering requirements. In addition, a student must complete a STEM Capstone project, maintain a minimum GPA in STEM courses, provide evidence of three years of high-school participation in STEM extracurricular programs, and complete a STEM Career job shadowing experience.
In addition to providing rigorous diploma track options, Sonoran Schools offers a unique opportunity to motivated students: the Sonoran Schools Mentorship Program (SSMP). This program is designed to help motivated students improve their skills, open their minds, and expand their horizons. The program includes national/international trips; college visits; internship opportunities; panel discussions; and leadership camps.
Leadership camps provide an opportunity for students to learn and develop the skill of leadership. Leaders are not born; they are created and molded. Being given the chance to lead is the first step in becoming an active and influential member of a community and the SSMP provides unique opportunities for students to engage with their peers in learning skills such as communication, teamwork, motivation, and delegation.
Eligibility for the SSMP is based on:
The SSMP's program's focus on community service; academic challenge; career evaluation; personal development; healthy lifestyle; and adeventure and discovery complements the goals of the U.S. Congressional Awards (congressionalaward.org).
Pursuit of a U.S. Congressional Award provides a unique opportunity for self-exploration through voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration.