SF International High School Pioneers Continuing Education At ACE Learning Center
By Guest Blogger Kyle Halle-Erby, Span Program Director, San Francisco International High School
This year, the ACE Learning Center at SF International High School (SFIHS) has taken an innovative turn in providing continuing education services to our students. Across San Francisco Unified School District, there are diverse school options for all students including a range of alternative continuation schools for students with unique needs. These schools offer independent study coursework, flexible schedules and increased counseling or case management services to meet the needs of many students for whom a traditional high school (8am-3pm, Monday-Friday) will simply not work. However, these programs have not been open to English learners.
At SFIHS, we have seen the consequences of this policy. Too often, this gap in programming has pushed our students out of school. Too often, we have seen students who want to continue studying drop out because they work all night and cannot attend school from 8am-3pm. But this year, with the support of the SFUSD Innovation Lab, a team from SF International went to work on designing a pilot program for English learners that would incorporate the independent study and flexible schedule components of successful continuation schools.
In the process, we challenged our assumptions about the students we want to serve by interviewing current and former students. We learned best practices by working with administrators from successful continuation schools in our district. And, we developed a team of teachers and staff at SFIHS committed to seeing this program come to life.
We still have more work to do, but for the first time we see a clear path to graduation for students we feared were at the end of the road.