At An Achievable Dream Middle and High School in Newport News, Virginia the expectation is that all students – 83 percent of whom qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch – will graduate from high school prepared for success in college and the workplace.
“Expanded learning time gives the option to declare ‘no failure,’” says Lee Vreeland, the school’s director of education and student services. “There is time to ensure that all succeed.”
Expanded learning time gives the option to declare ‘no failure.’An Achievable Dream operates on a calendar of 210 8-hour days. In earlier grades, it uses the extra time to focus on reading and math, helping students below grade level to catch up. In later grades, the extra time is used to prepare students for advanced work, where students are encouraged to enroll in advanced course work, such as AP calculus and dual-enrollment courses with local colleges.
Students in later grades participate in the school’s unique “What it Takes” curriculum, taking two to three classes each week intended to teach students the skills they need for success in the workplace, such as collaboration and teamwork. Business leaders teach the courses, forging community partnerships with the school that can lead to internship opportunities for students. Roughly 90 percent of juniors and seniors are involved in an internship or job shadowing experience.
Also reflecting the school’s intense focus on preparing every student for college, An Achievable Dream uses expanded time to support students through the college application and financial aid processes. Many Achievable Dream students will be the first in their families to go to college.
With 93 percent of Achievable Dream students scoring at proficient or above on Virginia’s state English language arts exam, and 92 percent scoring at proficient or above on math, An Achievable Dream is making good on its founding promise “that all children can learn and succeed regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.”