College and Career
Creating a Culture of Opportunities
The EPIC Academy, a charter school in Chicago, Ill., hopes it can ensure the college and career success of every one of its students in a city where only 6 percent of its high school freshmen go on to get a college degree by the time they turn 25.
The charter school uses the Expeditionary Learning model, which promotes project-based learning, a positive school culture, and high expectations for all students by using core practices such as learning expeditions, culture and character development, and leadership opportunities. EPIC is one of 165 such schools that are often located in low-income, urban areas across the United States.
Besides having a rigorous curriculum that includes four years of English, math, science, and history, EPIC students also learn crucial academic competencies they will need for college success, such as problem-solving, self-monitoring, analytical-thinking, and research skills, through project-based learning coursework.
For instance, 9th graders visited the old steel mills of South Chicago and spoke to redevelopers of the brownfields (abandoned industrial sites) to learn firsthand about industrialization and its role in local and national history. Students then turned this knowledge to account when they made a presentation to local leaders offering their insight on a current plan to revitalize their community.
EPIC Academy's leaders see their efforts to combine rigor, relevance, and real-world experience will succeed best in inspiring a new generation of students to get a college degree.
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ASCD Express, Vol. 7, No. 14. Copyright 2012 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.