At the heart of City Year is the belief that every student has the chance to succeed. Every 31 seconds, a student gives up on school. In Sacramento, 1,739 students in grades seven through 12 drop out every year, costing the region $298,207,811 of lifetime economic losses from a dropout cohort of just one year. City Year Sacramento is just one part of the solution in our community, providing the human capital needed to support students who are off track for high school graduation. Our work in Sacramento started just three short years ago in five of the city’s underserved schools.
One of those schools is Fern Bacon Middle School. One this is evident on the “Bulldog” campus: Students are held to high expectations. In the front office a sign read, “100% of students will reach proficient or advanced on the California Standards Test.” Recently retired Principal Nancy Purcell was a constant presence around Fern Bacon, ensuring that students felt cared for and supported.
When City Year joined her campus she put AmeriCorps members right to work in classrooms to provide whole-class support and targeted one-to-one tutoring with students who needed it most. She also tasked the City Year team with leading the school’s behavior incentive program, reinforcing positive choices throughout the school day and during the after school time. Principal Purcell also paired City Year with the school’s attendance staff to create coordinated support for students who needed a little extra encouragement from a near-peer to come to school consistently.
Current Fern Bacon Principal Mary Coronado has built on her predecessor’s legacy of implementing City Year’s support strategically throughout the entire campus. She has made City Year an integral part of the student experience by creating space for students to receive specialized support during the after school program thereby increasing the amount of academic support a student receives every single day. This kind of specific intervention creates more opportunities for teachers to differentiate their teaching approach, adapting to the needs of students in their classroom.
When administrators, teachers and City Year work in a strategic, coordinated effort to affect student outcomes, success is almost always guaranteed. In the 2013-2014 school year, 70% of Fern Bacon students receiving targeted interventions from a City Year AmeriCorps member improved from a grade of ‘D’ or ‘F’ to one of ‘C’ or above. That means that 70% of the students we served are now back on track to graduating from high school. In comparison to our 24 sister sites across the country, City Year Sacramento ranks highest when it comes to our Literacy results. All of this in just three years.
We know that we still have a long way to go – the drop out crisis is far from over. We are ready to dig in our heels and work collaboratively with school staff and other education experts in the community to ensure that students from the Capital Region stay on track to an on-time graduation.