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News Article

August 13, 2018

Charter schools want to share how they are helping more low-income students finish college

(Photo: Mark Felix/AP/The Orange County Register)

Richard Whitmire | USA Today | August 13, 2018

SAN ANTONIO — On the surface, we’re doing a reasonably good job encouraging ever more low-income students to enroll in college. Problem is, the percentage of those students who end up with actual degrees remains stuck at near-failure levels, about one in 10.

Given the earnings boost a college degree offers, this failure probably constitutes the biggest single roadblock preventing a solution to one of our thorniest social challenges, rising inequity in income and wealth— a problem that should make all Americans uneasy about our future.

Given all that, you might be surprised to learn there’s a solution that’s both affordable and highly likely to produce results for low-income students. High school counselors adopting these changes are likely to boost college success rates (as defined by earning a bachelor’s degrees within six years) by 5 to 10 percentage points. In just one year, a high school here in San Antonio using these methods at a high-poverty high school doubled the number of students enrolling in four-year colleges, which have significantly higher graduation rates.

The good news is that several major school districts — New York City, Miami, Newark, New Jersey and the Aspire charter network in California — gathered here last month to learn the same methods San Antonio is using.