The Christian Science Monitor

How one school is rising above gang activity to find college success

At Benito Juarez Community Academy, students begin each day by scanning their ID cards, sliding their backpacks through an X-ray machine, and walking through an airport-security-style metal detector.

In a city that recorded 762 murders in 2016, the most in the nation, security measures like these were authorized years ago for every public high school. At Juarez, they reinforce a long-held reputation for gang violence at the school and in its predominantly Latino, Lower West Side neighborhood.

Yet, inside the building, a new vision for the education of low-income students of color has taken root. It’s built around a skills-based model that prioritizes student mastery, extensive community outreach, and a culture that views college enrollment as an expectation. The results have been dramatic.

Since 2013, when the Chicago school switched to its skills-based curriculum, Juarez has seen gains in graduation rates and college acceptance that seemed unlikely for a school that had been on academic

A principal's visionProviding time to achieveClosing the gapMore work to be done  

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