Northside College Preparatory
A selective enrollment magnet school in Chicago, Northside College Prep is demonstrating ways to support high-achieving students. In 2010, Newsweek rated Northside a top high school, and U.S. News & World Report awarded it a Gold Medal. The 99.2 percent graduation rate only begins to illustrate the school’s academic success. The school’s average composite ACT score of 28.6 (compared with an average of 17.6 for the district and 20.6 for the state), and its Advanced Placement participation rate of 89 percent and passing rate of 85.7 percent, make Northside students desirable college applicants. Aside from physical education, all classes at the school are either Honors or AP. In 2008-09, nearly all Northside students met of exceeded standards in reading (99.6 percent), science (97.9 percent) and math (98.3 percent) on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.
Accolades for Northside student groups include the Northside Concert Choir’s Grand Prize in the 2010 Fidelity Future Stage Music Competition, a Web design student team’s second place finish in the Microsoft bliink Web design contest, and a group of Northside seniors’ award at the 2009 Stanford Global Innovation Tournament. School programs, such as a problem-based Integrated Mathematics Program and 1-to-1 mobile computing technology, help foster these successes.
Greg DiFrancesco, who teaches honors and AP chemistry, says that Northside definitely places a priority on programs like art and music that have been cut at other schools. Having a good balance of rigorous academics and creative outlets stimulates learning, he says. “I know it’s a priority of the school to keep that going.”
DiFrancesco has taught at Northside for 10 years. He says that teachers and staff give their all and that students rise to meet high expectations. In terms of academics, “we kind of push on the students a little bit more.” For instance, the school encourages everyone to take four years of science and four years of mathematics compared with the state requirements for high school graduation: three years of mathematics and two years of science. Since Northside students are highly motivated and “really into learning,” DiFrancesco finds his job especially rewarding. Students “look up to you and trust you and respect you” because “they get the sense that you’re helping them,” he says. “I feel like I’m appreciated more.”
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