6 African-American High Schools That Get It Right

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Providence St Mel.

By 1978 Chicago’s archdiocese had given up on Providence St. Mel, a poor-performing high school on Chicago’s west side.  The doors were closed but a campaign led by then-principal and current president, Paul Adams III, was successful in saving the school and incorporating it as an independent institution.  A complete turnaround ensued in which a focus on getting students prepared for college took center stage.  Since then grades K-8 have been added, test scores consistently pushed upward, and an international travel program instituted.  The crowning achievement is a thirty-year record of 100 percent acceptance to four year institutions.  A full-length documentary chronicling this unique legacy, “The Providence Effect”, was released in 2009.

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