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Pathways to Excellence

Foster High School, 2016

A diverse school that is helping its students succeed — before and after graduation.

November 10, 2016

Obstacles imposed by the Opportunity Gap can begin to seem insurmountable by the time impacted students reach high school. At one of the most diverse schools in the nation, students draw strength from challenges such as homelessness and immigrant and refugee status.

Pat Larson knew she would have a tough road ahead when she became principal of Foster High School. In the ten years preceding her arrival, the high school had gone through around a dozen principals. Now, three years later, she has brought more than just her experience to Foster — she’s brought stability.

One of the biggest challenges she has tackled has been low graduation rates. Larson brought in new teachers and worked with those who had been at the school through previous tumultuous times to help re-engage students. The educators at the school also started a program to recover school credits for students who were falling behind. 

“[It] puts them right back in the game. As long as they didn’t have hope, they were not going to make it,” says Larson.

Not only did the educators at Foster focus on helping more studnets graduate, they also looked to provide more rigorous studies so that students could succeed beyond high school. Since 2014, Foster has more than doubled the number of students taking AP courses.