Crew, the former head of schools in New York City, Miami, Sacramento and Tacoma, met May 31 with students, teachers and leaders.
Jefferson students take courses at the high school as well as college courses at Portland Community College-Cascade Campus free of charge, earning a year or more of college credit from PCC in addition to their high school diploma. The nonprofit youth development organization Self Enhancement Inc. provides tutoring, mentoring and other social supports to Jefferson students.
Credit- and income-eligible Jefferson graduates can receive full tuition scholarships to University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University and Warner Pacific College. Pacific University and several other colleges are signing on with scholarship agreements.
"More and more people will want to come to a school like this because their dreams are available to them here,” Crew told students.
The state wants more students to go on to career training and college, particularly students of color and those from poor families. Crew’s charge is to transform the public education system and break down barriers among early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary institutions.
State officials said Crew visited Jefferson to recognize its innovative work and promising early results, and the partnership of Portland Public Schools, Self Enhancement Inc., Portland Community College and other Oregon colleges and universities.
He said he was most impressed by the students, who spoke of changing common stereotypes of the school, the connection they have with their teachers and the support and challenge they feel academically.
Interest in Jefferson grows
Jefferson is proving attractive to students from around the metropolitan area since the middle college program expanded last fall from a pilot to a school-wide program and Jefferson became a focus, or magnet, school no longer required to offer the full core academic program offered at comprehensive high schools.
Enrollment at Jefferson is expected to surpass 500 students next year, reaching as high as 550, including 37 students accepted through the lottery from other PPS high school attendance areas as well as students from the neighborhood and from the Young Women’s Leadership Academy, which is closing. In addition, eight students have indicated they will pay the district’s $6,274 tuition to attend Jefferson from David Douglas, North Clackamas, Reynolds, Riverdale and West Linn-Wilsonville school districts.
Jefferson's enrollment this year was 420.
Jefferson is accessible to students who live in the high school’s attendance area as well as to students districtwide via lottery. PPS set a target of 450 to 600 students for the revamped Jefferson program.
“It was great to have the chance to share our story with Dr. Crew,” said Jefferson Principal Margaret Calvert. “The transformation we’re experiencing at Jefferson is coming from the ground up with a program that reflects the values, commitment and investment of our teachers, our school district, our partners and Jefferson families.”
View the Portland Tribune article, Jefferson's Middle College gamble could be paying off.
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