Since our founding in 1998, our mission has remained College For Certain – for all students.
We are true public schools that accept every student and family who secures a seat through the audited charter lottery process.
It is our goal that each and every student completes a post-secondary program of study, on time or early, aligned with his or her passions, and culminating with a smooth transition to a career of his or her choosing.
Our belief in students’ abilities, our commitment to students’ futures, and our partnership approach to working with students and their families have never wavered, and together we continue to learn, iterate, and improve to ensure College for Certain for all.
How do we define and evaluate “college-ready” for our students?
Post-secondary success begins with academic and social/emotional readiness. We have redefined college-ready metrics that raise the bar in order to ensure that Aspire students are truly prepared to enter their post-secondary programs with the knowledge, skills and mindsets they need to succeed and finish. Aspire students are considered college-ready only when they have met all of these metrics:
- ACT Scores: At least 22 in English and at least 23 in Math
- SBAC Proficiency: Meets the Standard (Level 3) in both ELA and Math
- College-Level Coursework: Pass any college course or AP exam
- Social-Emotional Preparedness: Full participation in an Aspire Social Emotional Learning Program (SEL),
now required at every Aspire school.
What “to” and “through” efforts do we invest in to support college transition, persistence, and completion?
Research shows that we can have a huge impact on college completion while are students are still with us in grades TK-12, and that is where we will continue to dedicate the most resources, beginning with a relentless commitment to the readiness metrics mentioned above.
Then, through supporting “college match” (ensuring students are applying and gaining acceptance to the colleges that are the best fit for them), addressing “summer melt” (the catchy name for the devastating phenomenon of students being accepted into a college but not matriculating in the fall), and facilitating a smooth transition out of Aspire and into a post-secondary setting, we will better support our students on their path to post-secondary program completion.
How do we organize this work?
In 2017 Aspire launched its ambitious, five-year AspireForward strategic plan that will carry the organization through 2022, at which point we will serve 20,000 students, have more than 5,500 alumni, and graduate more than 600 seniors per year.
AspireForward’s post-secondary access and success strategies incorporate Aspire alumni, counselor, teacher, principal, and regional and home office teammate input, and result in six overarching initiatives that will vary according to local school and community context for each of our 10 high schools.
These initiatives are:
- Alumni Support: More frequent touchpoints with alumni to gather both quantitative and qualitative data through which to improve our TK-12 and post-secondary transition programming
- College Advising: Student and family college advising that focuses on both college match (where a student can go based on academic credentials and affordability, highlighting programs with high on-time graduation rates) and college fit (where a student wants to go based upon various preferences – campus size, distance from home, academic majors and minors, school spirit, extracurricular options, etc.)
- Transition Planning & Support: Post-secondary program transition support for both students and their families – both the technical steps and the social/emotional/cultural opportunities and challenges of transitioning out of high school.
- College Affordability: Scholarship and financial aid support, including understanding and comparing various college financial packages
- Partnerships: Partnerships with colleges and universities to secure better supports for our alumni after they have left our campuses.
To learn more, please contact John Fanning, Director of College Initiatives.
Don Shalvey Changing the Odds Award
Our founder Don Shalvey believed in creating opportunities for all families to earn a college degree. To honor Don, Aspire created the Don Shalvey Changing the Odds Award. This award recognizes Aspire Alumni in three categories:
- First generation college graduate
- Tenacity in the pursuit of College for Certain
- Giving back to other Aspire students and their community