2 Detroit charter schools boost diploma requirements

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

Detroit — Students at two charter high schools in Detroit face a tougher academic climb toward graduation.

Starting with the class of 2017, students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and Consortium College Prep High School must take at least one Advanced Placement course in English, math, science or social studies to qualify for a diploma, school and College Board officials announced Monday at the academy’s northwest Detroit campus.

Students at both schools, which are managed by American Promise Schools, also have to gain acceptance to at least two postsecondary institutions — college, trade or technical school, or the military, starting with the class of 2016.

“We are really trying to step up and take our school to the next level,” said Jalen Rose, the former NBA player and TV personality who founded the academy. “By the time our scholars graduate, they will be college ready. Taking AP classes will help them succeed.”

Wendell Hall, senior director for policy at the College Board, said only a few schools in the nation make taking the college prep courses mandatory.

“Taking AP classes helps students get their foot in the door,” Hall said. “Research shows these are the students that perform well in college.”

English composition and language, calculus , physics, history and biology are the five AP classes offered at the academy and Consortium College Prep. So far, the College Board offers 33 advanced courses.

While some students may dread the increased schoolwork, Jiyah Pitt welcomes it.

“I think taking AP classes would help me to get used to a college workload,” said Pitt, who will be a senior at the academy in the fall.

Tutoring and extra classes will be offered to make sure students don’t fall behind while taking the rigorous courses.

“We have a robust honors program infused with hard and soft skills that implement critical thinking along with other tools that are needed to succeed in these classes,” said Tanya Bowman, the academy’s principal. “We have high expectations and we know our students will rise to the occasion.”

Teion Howard, a junior at the academy, already is planning his schedule for the fall.

“I love a challenge, so I will be taking all four classes,” Howard said. “We want to be one of the best schools in the nation.”