San Diego

Parents Say Lincoln High Students Set up for Failure with College-Prep Program

Out of 66 students who had enrolled in a college class during the fall semester, only 17 passed

Parents of a local high school claim their kids had been set up for failure in a college-prep program after more than half of the students fail the courses.

The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) launched the STEAM Middle College program two years ago. It was designed to give students at Lincoln High School access to college classes at San Diego City College and help reverse the declining enrollment rate.

But according to parents, the program did just the opposite.

Out of 66 students who had enrolled in a college class during the fall semester, only 17 passed.

Parents gathered at a school board meeting on Jan. 24, saying that the district is letting their kids down.

"We can all stand around and be stoic about this and not be bothered but this was a deliberate attempt to fail the students at Lincoln High," one parent said. 

According to Mario Koran, from NBC 7's media partner Voice of San Diego, the STEAM Middle College Program saw some changes leading up to the fall semester.

Koran said in past years, students had the option to chose between Psychology, Hispanic Studies or a Personal Growth class. This fall semester, they were only offered the choice of remedial math.

"All the students who had signed up for college classes, all of them were routed into the math class...whether they had asked for it or not," Koran told NBC 7.

But Board Member Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said the school district had been attempting to make the program more economical. She added that it was also for students to get finish a required class.

"Whenever a college class does not have enough students in it, we have to subsidize it," Whitehurst-Payne said.

Parents argued students did not receive any support and there was no communication or intervention from the school.

"They knew 80 percent of the children failed that class and nothing was done," a parent said.

Whitehurst-Payne said the school should have monitored students even after the midterm but added that it was lesson to be learned from.

"For everybody, for the students, for the district--and I'm not going to say those children did not gain something from that experience," she said. "The second time around, they will do much better because they'll understand that math next time, right?" 

She said SDUSD will not offer only one course next time. The district has also worked out a plan to change the failing grades to a W, indicating that students had withdrawn from the class. 

The students will still have to take the course again if they want to earn credits.

But parents worry that this could impact the students' graduation requirements or even hinder them from getting accepted into colleges.

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