An Eastside Education – a six-part digital news project that follows one semester at the most talked about school in one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods as teachers, parents, administrators, and students fight to meet state accountability standards or watch their school be closed.
Prologue: All In
The Texas Education Agency gave Eastside Memorial three years to meet state accountability standards or watch their school by shuttered. Principal Bryan Miller calls this year “make or break.” In the prologue we explain how the school got to this point and why the staff is all in on making the grade this school year.
Chapter 1: East Side
Johnston High School opened in East Austin in 1960, when mostly African Americans and Latinos lived east of I-35. In recent years parents, students, and community members have rallied to keep the doors open.
Chapter 2: Family Lives Here
Students at Eastside see struggles most teens don’t have to deal with. But many of them agree with the school’s unofficial motto: Family Lives Here. We follow two seniors through their final semester as they overcome statistics and graduate.
Chapter 3: At Risk
It’s Graduation Coach Harry Brooks’ job to keep dropout rates low and graduation rates high. We follow him through the halls, to Truancy Court, as he conducts home visits, and watches his students walk across the stage at graduation.
Chapter 4: High Stakes
Eastside’s survival depends on how well the students perform on end-of-course STAAR exams. We follow as students, teachers, and administrators brace for test day.
Chapter 5: Waiting Game
If Eastside fails to meet standards again this school year they will only have one more school year to make it happen, or be shuttered for a year. Preliminary test results are back and some students will be forced to return to Eastside during the summer. We check in with teachers as they pack up their classrooms and watch the Class of 2015 graduate. Everyone at Eastside will have to wait until August to find out if they finally made accountability.
Epilogue: Test results released (Updated reporting to come in August)
School ratings go public in August – stay tuned to find out how Eastside Memorial fared.
This project is part of KLRU’s American Graduate initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The American Graduate initiative seeks to establish a clearer understanding about why students drop out of high school and how drop out impacts our economy and society. An Eastside Education examines these issues up close by exploring how one school, in an at-risk community, is overcoming years of poor performance and trending toward success.