Whatever It Takes

Whatever It Takes

UCAP does whatever it takes to help our students stay in and succeed in school. Our two key tools are 1) our unique Acceleration Model - our curriculum, teaching program, and attention to each student's needs), and 2) our essential Beyond School programs – our 24/7 academic, recreational, and enrichment programs that extned the school day, week, and year.

Here's why we fight so hard.

Students had to fail school to reach UCAP's front door.

Can we be any clearer? Every student at UCAP has been held back at least one grade. A third have repeated more than once.

In addition to repeating a grade, such students already often have histories of truancy and suspensions and frequently-changing addresses and schools.

Their failure is ours

A student who has repeated a grade is up to 11 times more likely to drop out of school than his or her peers. That's just the first failure of many.

The student dropout substantially increases his or her likelihood to be unemployed, live in poverty, be chronically ill, receive public assistance, go to prison, be divorced, be a single parent, and repeat the cycle of having children who also drop out of school.

A dropout will earn a half-million dollars less than a high school graduate (let alone a college graduate) over a lifetime. He or she is more than eight times as likely to be incarcerated.

The expense is not just theirs or their family's to bear. The cost of a youth who drops out of school and moves into a life of crime or drugs ranges from $1.7-2.3 million. And those are the just the financial costs.

Few walk into the classroom ready to learn

The demographics of our three school systems don't help.

According to Rhode Island Kids Count, among the youth from Central Falls:

  1. 41% are living below the federal poverty level
  2. 57% are below 8th grade reading proficiency (twice the state average)
  3. 21% are English Language Learners, the highest percentage in the state.

Among children from Providence:

  1. 32% will witness or experience domestic abuse
  2. one of every 16 will test positive for lead poisoning

Among children from Cranston:

  1. 13% of their mothers received delayed prenatal care
  2. 20% will not graduate high school
  3. 24% live in single-parent families.

And they've all been held back at least one grade!

For our challenged students, UCAP is competing with the "allure" of quick cash from minimum wage jobs in the best case scenario, and drugs in the worst, the illusory freedom of the streets, the short-term escape of drugs and sex, and the dangerous adventure of gangs and violence.

No excuses from students or from UCAP

UCAP is here to help students succeed regardless of their circumstances. We have clear guidelines and rules (read the Student Handbook) and high expectations for their success. We expect graduating UCAP students to:

  1. Think critically, conduct research (develop theses, arguments, solutions), and demonstrate information literacy (find, analyze, and apply resources).  
  2. Articulate their thinking verbally through the use of relevant knowledge and evidence, independently and as part of a group. 
  3. Use a variety of cognitive strategies independently to problem-solve, make decisions, and successfully complete class work. 
  4. Use English literacy skills effectively in all content areas. 
  5. Be self-directed in their learning by being prepared for the school day, taking ownership for and reflecting on their work and progress, understanding their learning styles, and using study skills. 
  6. Positively and effectively work together in groups. 
  7. Be a community member by taking responsibility for their actions and taking on a positive leadership role. 
  8. Be inquisitive and learn because they want to know and understand to succeed in school and beyond. 
  9. Explore their personal and career interests and find personal connections that relate what they are learning to their own lives. 
  10. Use technology literacy skills effectively in all content areas.

But we'll do whatever it takes to reach them

On the other hand, UCAP pays attention to every aspect of our students' lives. We have to if we are to succeed. If you doubt it, spend the next hour watching the UCAP documentary Accelerating America.

Whatever It Takes explains UCAP's unique approach:

  • The Acceleration Model describes how UCAP motivates and enables students to make up lost ground, ignite a love for learning, and catch up to their peers.
  • Beyond School identifies the myriad ways and programs UCAP connects with students outside the traditional school environment and consciousness.
  • Essential Writings offers key materials, evaluations, reviews, and essays regarding the UCAP experience.
  • Successes documents the ups – and occasional downs – of UCAP's 21-year history.
  • Organizational Structure gives insight to the formal operations of the school.
  • Replicating UCAP suggests options for educators considering similar efforts.