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Harvard Reports Poly, Jordan Beat the Odds

The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University this spring reported that Poly and Jordan high schools are "beating the odds." Both schools are graduating a significantly higher than expected percentage of students. Poly ranked number one and Jordan ranked ninth in the Harvard graduation rate study. Only 15 California high schools made the list of exemplary high schools. The Harvard report examined high school enrollment data to verify which students were able to meet academic requirements and earn promotion from grade to grade. "High promoting power" schools like Poly and Jordan were recognized for having a high percentage of students making a successful passage through high school. Both schools have superior graduation rates, according to the study. Both schools serve high percentages of minority and low-income students. The Harvard study identified the top performing schools serving at least 25 percent African-American or Latino students. At least 40 percent of the students at these schools qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. "Kids (at Poly) for the most part feel connected to the school," said Poly co-principal Shawn Ashley. "When they feel connected, they keep coming, and that makes a world of difference." Poly and Jordan were cited for defying the low graduation rates and high dropout rates often seen in high schools that serve minority students. The average promoting power of the most successful high schools in California was at least 80 percent, compared to 60 percent or less for other high schools serving comparable student populations. The Harvard study recommended that the state should set a floor in graduation rates for major racial groups, and urged it to provide rewards for schools that make substantial, steady progress toward that goal. Successful high schools like Poly and Jordan are already proving that it can be done.