BALTIMORE (WJZ)– New numbers released on Friday show a reversal in the city’s low graduation rate. It’s a problem that plagues large school districts nationwide.

And as Gigi Barnett explains, Baltimore may have found the key to turning it around.

All of the students at Vivien T. Thomas High School in West Baltimore wear lab coats. Even the teachers wear them. It allows students to see themselves as future doctors, surgeons or scientists.

School leaders say it’s a vision that helps students stay in school. That means fewer dropouts and more diplomas.

“When you see all these kids in their lab coats, they have redefined what success is for themselves,” said Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of the Baltimore City Schools.

School leaders say it’s, in part, why they’re seeing record shattering numbers in the graduation and dropout rates.

New numbers released Friday show over the last four years, the city’s graduation rate is nearly 72 percent. That’s a 20 percent increase.

And as the grad numbers go up, the dropout rate is going down. During the same time, about four percent of students left school. That means 55 percent more are staying in class.

“I went from having U.S. history as a freshman to taking AP government as a sophomore and still acing it with an A,” Brienna Ash, a student at Vivien T. Thomas High School, said.

Alonso says boosting the graduation rate was one of his priorities when he took over the district back in 2007.

He closed failing schools, increased the number of AP courses and added more schools like Vivien T. Thomas that focus on career and technical classes.

“Every once in a while, you get something back that basically tells you, keep at it and keep going,” he said.

Another reason why city schools are seeing a boost in the number of graduates is because the district has a campaign that allows volunteers and teachers to go door-to-door asking dropouts to go back to class.

Last year, more than 4,500 students graduated in the city. That’s roughly a six percent increase from the year before.

Comments (9)
  1. Wheres common sense when you need it says:

    Next week we will hear how Baltimores graduation numbers were incorrect because of cheating…………………..

  2. sheriff says:

    Better yet, they just lower the standards for Blacks to think they’re passing & the poor fools can’t even spell or write when they get to the university level. I drive by MSU regularily & some of the stuff I see is preposterous. They are about as ready for the business world as I am for being a walk on brain surgeon.

  3. Stacy says:

    Well sheriff, I graduated from a public high school, got accepted into many colleges, choose to go to UMBC and then MICA for their visual arts programs (I got accepted into both programs as well), which isn’t easy), will be graduating in May and have an internship in my field of study. And, as you so eloquently put, I am one of those ‘poor black fools’…

    Don’t generalize everyone in Baltimore city, some of us are actually doing what we are supposed to.

  4. sheriff says:

    Stacy, Good for you now unlike many Black leaders when they “Makr it”, don’t go running off to the suburbs in your new BMW & try to fit in with the “White devils”. Get a grip & give back by mentoring those to ignorant or uneducated.

    1. Seramie says:

      No one needs your praise, congratulations etc. it will always contain nasty overtones and generalization of African Americans over all. You do it to make yourself feel good, which also brings me to another point, you can ALWAYS be found commenting on stories that involve African American race (Even when or if it isn’t about the race, you find away to invoke it. Very pathetic of you) . It is as if you have nothing more important or respectful to say. But hey as long as you can feel good about yourself is all that is important no?

  5. sheriff says:

    Seramie,…… Damm, There I go minding my own business & everybody else’s & you come along again. What crawled up your A$$ pimples & made a bad smell stink even worse. What’s wrong pogo, can’t get reception or cable in your tree house?

  6. D-Dub says:

    Sheriff is the same stereotypical racist who will spew his racist comments on comments, but yet when he is on a elevator with a few brothers, He is quiet as a church mouse. Archie Bunker is his hero.

    1. sheriff says:

      D-Dub, I don’t ride elevators with Coons & beside they’re too stupid to find the buttons for UP& Down.

  7. D-Dub says:

    Bravo for the Students and Faculty who worked diligently to improve the graduation/dropout rate.

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