Gompers Preparatory Academy

Gompers Preparatory Academy (GPA, formerly Gompers Charter Middle School) is celebrating its seven-year anniversary as conversion charter school in southeastern San Diego. The school staff has changed an unsafe, failing school into a thriving college prep academy. With an 88-point gain on the Academic Performance Index (API) for 2011, GPA is the most improved middle and high school in San Diego Unified.

They are especially proud of their astonishing improvements in sub-group scores: Students with Disabilities had a 104-point gain; English Learners had a 99-point gain; African Americans had a 109-point gain, and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged students had a 101-point gain. These are ground breaking triumphs in their mission to accelerate academic achievement for ALL students.

But beyond standardized tests, the real accomplishment of GPA comes in June as they graduated 100% of its first senior class. This is an incredible achievement for Gompers and San Diego as, nation-wide, the average graduation rate for high poverty schools is a dismal 68%. Gompers has stopped the “pipeline to prison,” as one parent once called the Gompers campus, and opened a “highway to college.”

GPA is a college prep school that requires 100% of students to complete a rigorous A-G curriculum, including every student taking a minimum of one Advanced Placement class. For this senior class, 20% are students in special education, 50% are second language learners, and 100% are free and reduced lunch. Eighty-five percent of students come to the school below grade level in math or English in the 7th grade.

Fifty-one percent of seniors were eligible to apply to a CSU and/or UC institution and 86% of those eligible have been admitted into a four-year institution. All seniors will attend a four-year university or community college this fall, so 100% of the school’s students will graduate and attend a post-secondary school. The 56-year old Gompers campus has never hosted a senior class with graduation and college acceptance rates near this level. Founded in 2005 in partnership with UCSD and the community, Gompers Preparatory Academy is a college preparatory middle/high school serving a diverse student body of approximately 950 students in grades 6-12.

Once a failing and unsafe school that was plagued by high staff attrition, low student attendance, low parent engagement, and one of the highest student suspension rates in the district, Gompers Preparatory Academy has shown steady improvement since converting to a public charter school in 2005.

Teacher retention rates have more than tripled, suspension rates have been reduced by 75%, attendance has improved from 91% to almost 96%, and parent engagement has exploded with over 3,000 hours logged per year. Building on years of school culture transformation and steady gains on state test scores, GPA’s Academic Performance Index (API) scores climbed by 88 points in 2011. A Cinderella story indeed, GPA has turned a failing campus into a thriving school that serves its community in Southeastern San Diego.