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High school classroom scenes.

A stronger high school system

Each year, graduates of PPS high schools win prestigious scholarships. Gain admission to the most competitive colleges in the world. Or enter careers that demand highly technical skills.

But for too long, not every neighborhood school has been able to offer well-rounded classes. Graduation rates have been too low, especially for students of color. Our schools have not educated all students equally well.

With input from more than 10,000 Portlanders, we are making changes at our high schools. This fall, high schools will offer students:

Strong equal programs, close to home

This fall all students will have access to a common, well-rounded core program at their community high school: Cleveland, Franklin, Grant, Lincoln, Madison, Roosevelt or Wilson.

Schools won’t have cookie-cutter classes. But students can expect: teachers who know them and encourage their success. More options to individualize their learning, such as online courses. More access to college-going skills and college credits.

This is how we will improve equity. This is how we will open more doors to college and careers. This is how every high school will be a “go-to” school for students and teachers. This is how our high schools will remain anchors of their neighborhoods.

Go to Jefferson. Go to college.

Focus schools — Benson Polytechnic High School, Jefferson High School – Middle College for Advanced Studies and Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women — give students a different experience.

Through a partnership with Portland Community College, Jefferson Middle College offers students the chance to earn up to one year of college credit — at no charge — while they earn a high school diploma.

Students can take classes at Jefferson and PCC–Cascade Campus. They can participate in strong Jefferson programs such as Health Sciences/Biotechnology and the Jefferson Dancers. They can play sports and join clubs. Throughout their four years, they receive one-on-one guidance from Jefferson and PCC counselors, and support from Self Enhancement Inc.

Middle College programs are successful in other major cities: Students are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to enroll in college and more likely to complete college than other students.

“Students who don’t see themselves as going to college realize the possibilities through the Middle College program. I started college as a sophomore.”

— Michael Nelson (below), Jefferson Class of 2010

Michael Nelson, Jefferson Class of 2010