New Program Offers High School Dropouts A Second Chance

CHICAGO (CBS) — Traditional classrooms didn’t work for them, but hundreds of high school dropouts are now getting their diplomas a new way – on their terms.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov takes a look at the new program at a Chicago charter school.

Robert Bell didn’t finish high school. He stopped going when his mom got sick. This is his second chance.

Without the Youth Connection Charter School program giving him that second chance, Bell said “I wouldn’t actually do anything. I would be home watching TV right about now.”

The 20-year-old South Side resident is one of 171 students in the YCCS program, which combines traditional classroom learning with a flexible online curriculum.

The goal is to help at-risk adults obtain their high school diploma on a schedule that works for them.

“A lot of the students explained to me that they like the fact that it’s individualized learning. Each one of our classes are customized to meet their graduation requirements,” YCCS Head of School Early King said.

King said the three-year-old program is really the only one of its kind in the country.

So far, it’s working; 61 of 65 students graduated the first year of the program, and 121 of 127 students got their diploma the second year.

“We have students drop out of three or four other schools and come here and succeed, and I think that’s pretty extraordinary to see that,” King said.

Bell said the school has empowered him.

That’s why Illinois Policy Institute vice president of policy Ted Dabrowski said there needs to be more blended classrooms like this one.

“What’s great about Chicago is that, over the last 10, 15, 20 years, it has actually been an innovator. But, I think as a state, we’ve been less innovative than other states,” Dabrowski said.

There are other graduation incentives, too. If students make it through the first 30 days without being absent or late, they get to keep their laptops.

Also, for every A or B a student earns, they get money toward a college scholarship after they graduate.

Bell should graduate this summer. He said he wants to be a nurse.

To register for YCCS, click here.

More from Dana Kozlov
  • Afro

    What the fuk they have a better deal than the kids who don’t drop out I hate this fukn state all it ever does is perpetuate degeneracy now the drop out rate will go even higher

  • PG

    “There are other graduation incentives, too. If students make it through the first 30 days without being absent or late, they get to keep their laptops.

    Also, for every A or B a student earns, they get money toward a college scholarship after they graduate.”

    So let me understand. These kids drop out of school, enroll in this program, and they get all kinds of goodies. Meanwhile, the kids that actually tough it out and graduate the way that they are supposed to, get squat. Unreal.

    Honestly we as a society reward laziness and celebrate mediocrity at every turn, meanwhile people who work hard and do things the right way get taken advantage of.

    I wonder if these “students” who are getting to study there way will find employers in the real world who will let them work there way and on their schedule as well?

  • Jack

    Another handout for blacks and browns..

  • Take the blinders off Jack!!

    Jack, lazy comes in all colors!! Don’t forget the hillbillies!!

  • Bruce

    I don’t think these kids are being given a handout. It looks like this is simply a second chance for underprivileged youth. You don’t know what their prior situation was so you shouldn’t pass judgement on them. I also doubt that all of the students that have gone through the program were of color. Don’t be mad because their incentives seem to be better than yours were in high school. These students are simply trying to better themselves and for you to try to insult their integrity and limit their success to the color of their skin shows your true ignorance. No one said anything about promoting or supporting dropping out of school. You chose a different route of success and that is yours to be proud of, so let these kids be proud of their own path to success. You graduated high school your first time around, might have done pretty well even. Congrats! Great for you! Now why shouldn’t these kids have the same opportunity.

  • Definition of Ambition

    Ok first off i agree with bruce….this program has nothing to do with the color of your skin. It’s all about giving student’s a second chance. This goes to show that no matter what type of background that you come from you can still be successful. All of these student’s have different situations, and should not be judged on the demeanor of their character based off of what another person thinks is a handout. So what i say is let them get their education and better themselves, become engineers of society’s finest. This intune will help them to become a crafted version of success and contribute to a better community. They say that children and young adults are our tommorow, so with them being given this opportunity it really shows that we need more programs like this in the greater chicago area.

  • Veracity

    I would like to say that I have seen young kids grow up to being adults and as I seen them grow up but as I seen the news with this school on it it showed how these kids learn more than a regular school would teach it showed that they are able to work on things that they need instead of what they do not need. I feel that those that talk eel of these kids you are not understanding how the school is improving the rate of gaining their diploma and going off to college It is also the quickest way to Leadership Success. Leaders use the “challenge” word often. It means things are solvable. Goals can be reached. Success is possible. give these kids to show you that it is a better chance for them to make things happrn in their lives do not put them down help them up from a fall that that they have fallin into. Their Opus Is Not What They Do But The Legacy They Will Become….

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