So, I teach at a "college prep" school. I put that in quotes because it is sort of a misnomer. Yes, we are literally college prep in that we do not offer "general" or "remedial" courses; every class that we teach will apply to a CSU or UC school. We are also college prep in the fact that our diploma requirements are the same requirements that it takes to get in to college, unlike many high schools where you just have to meet the state minimums. Our students do need 2 years of foreign language and a year of art, among all the other college prep requirements. We are also college prep in the way that most of our teachers plan our curriculum; we truly are planning coursework that we believe will prepare the students for college. If a student gets an A or B in my classes, then he or she is truly approaching college readiness (understood that I teach 10th grade), and the A and B students often are demonstrating this already by taking and succeeding in college courses during high school, since we are linked to a nearby junior college.
Why the quotes then? Well, because our student body is not what one typically thinks of when they think of college prep. We are 100% free lunch- no one pays- because we are a high poverty school. Most of the students will be the first in their families to go to college, and many will be the first to even graduate high school. However, even more challenging to this title is the fact that many of them have no intention of going to college. It is actually weird. Some of them are here just because it is the best (not to mention safest) school in the surrounding area. One of my kids actually said to another student today, "You don't want to go to work with your Dad?! Isn't he a mechanic? That's the best job ever!" Now, given, I have a lot of respect for mechanics and am glad they do what they do. I also recognize that modern mechanics can be quite challenging. But the best job in the world? Really? (On a side note, the student who made the comment obviously doesn't know the other student very well. That student would much rather be helping his mother make clothes than helping his father fix cars).
Anyhow... so I am really starting to wonder about the lack of college prep attitude at our school. Not amongst the faculty, but amongst the students. 35% of my students are not passing, at least not by my standards, meaning that they have a D or F. I say they are not passing because, while they will get high school credit with a D, you can't really get into a 4-year college with that.
Wow. I am having a hard time sitting with that number.