National Charter Schools Week Guest Blog: Gompers Preparatory Academy Will Graduate 100% of Students in its First Senior Class in 2012!

May 11, 2012

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By Vincent Riveroll

Director, Gompers Preparatory Academy

As the California charter movement reaches its 20th year mark, Gompers Preparatory Academy (GPA) is celebrating our seven-year anniversary as conversion charter school in southeastern San Diego. I am proud to say that the students, staff, and families of GPA are transforming public education. We are proud that we have changed an unsafe, failing school into a thriving college prep academy. With an 88-point gain on the Academic Performance Index (API) for 2011, GPA is the most improved middle and high school in San Diego Unified. We are especially proud of our astonishing improvements in sub-group scores: Students with Disabilities had a 104-point gain; English Learners had a 99-point gain; African Americans had a 109-point gain, and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged students had a 101-point gain. These are ground breaking triumphs in our mission to accelerate academic achievement for ALL students.

But beyond standardized tests, the real accomplishments of GPA will come this June. We are proud that we will be graduating 100% of our first senior class! This is an incredible achievement for our school and our city as, nationwide, the average graduation rate for high poverty schools is a dismal 68%. We have stopped the "pipeline to prison," as one parent once called the Gompers campus, and opened a "highway to college."

GPA is a college prep school that requires 100% of our students to complete a rigorous A-G curriculum, including every student taking a minimum of one Advanced Placement class. For this senior class, 20% are students in special education, 50% are second language learners, and 100% are free and reduced lunch. Eighty-five percent of our students come to us below grade level in math or English in the 7th grade.

Fifty-one percent of our seniors were eligible to apply to a CSU and/or UC institution and 86% of those eligible have been admitted into a four-year institution. All of our seniors will attend a four-year university or community college this fall, so 100% of our students will graduate and attend a post-secondary school. The 56-year old Gompers campus has never hosted a senior class with graduation and college acceptance rates near this level!

While it is impossible to identify one single element that has made this transformation possible, I can definitely attribute most of our success to the fine people who have chosen to join this work over the past seven years. Our teachers and staff have a "students first" belief system that sets them apart.

Gompers Preparatory Academy was Founded in 2005, in partnership with UCSD and our community, Gompers Preparatory Academy (formerly Gompers Charter Middle School) is a college preparatory middle/high school serving a diverse student body of approximately 950 students in grades 6-12. Once a failing and unsafe school that was plagued by high staff attrition, low student attendance, low parent engagement, and one of the highest student suspension rates in the district, Gompers Preparatory Academy has shown steady improvement since converting to a public charter school in 2005. Teacher retention rates have more than tripled, suspension rates have been reduced by 75%, attendance has improved from 91% to almost 96%, and parent engagement has exploded with over 3,000 hours logged per year. Building on years of school culture transformation and steady gains on state test scores, GPA's Academic Performance Index (API) scores climbed by 88 points in 2011. A Cinderella story indeed, GPA has turned a failing campus into a thriving school that serves its community in Southeastern San Diego.

Below is a list of colleges/universities that have accepted students in our first senior class:

California State Universities (CSU):

  • Cal Poly, Pomona
  • Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
  • Humboldt State University
  • Sacramento State University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Jose State University
  • CSU Bakersfield
  • CSU Channel Islands
  • CSU Chico
  • CSU Dominguez Hills
  • CSU East Bay
  • CSU Los Angeles
  • CSU Long Beach
  • CSU San Marcos

University of California (UC):

  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside
  • UC San Diego
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • UC Santa Cruz

Private Universities in California:

  • Menlo College
  • Notre Dame De Namur University
  • St. Mary's College
  • University of San Diego (USD)

Out of State, Public:

  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Out of State, Private:

  • Chestnut Hill College
  • Columbia College, Chicago
  • Whitworth University

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