Untapped Potential

An incredible special report from the Boston Globe:

Over the past year, the Globe has tracked down 93 of the 113 valedictorians who appeared in the paper’s first three “Faces of Excellence” features from 2005 to 2007. We wanted to know, more than a decade later, how the stories of Boston’s best and brightest were turning out.

The entire collection of articles, graphics, and data paints a challenging and inspiring picture of the obstacles facing the “best and brightest” students in Boston’s public schools. Many of the students faced financial and/or social struggles when they first entered college, but some also found themselves academically unprepared for college work.

Some of the valedictorians - notably, the ones from selective “exam schools” - fared better than other public school graduates. That there could be such a wide variation in the quality of academic preparation among schools’ highest-performing students is extremely disappointing, but not surprising.

Much work remains to be done to help students navigate the transition from high school to college, both financially and socially, but K-12 leaders and policymakers should at a bare minimum ensure that high school coursework can prepare students academically for their next step. That may mean entering the workforce or military, attending a community college, or enrolling in a highly selective university, but no student should have their potential limited by policymakers’ lowered expectations and/or unchallenging curricular options.