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The mission of The Next Step/El Proximo Paso Public Charter School is to provide students who face extraordinary challenges and who are not supported in traditional high schools the opportunity to continue their education.
The Next Step Public Charter School is a bilingual GED and ESL program for immigrant and other at-risk youth who have not succeeded in traditional high schools. The vast majority of The Next Step students (over 80%) are English Language Learners (native Spanish speakers); half have immigrated to the U.S. within the past 3 years. The average academic level of incoming students in their native language is less than fifth grade and they are 15-24 years old. The high school dropout rate is much higher for immigrant youth than for any other group in the U.S. As the nation's largest minority population, Latinos make up 15% of the population. In Washington, D.C., most live in Wards 1 and 4-where The Next Step is located.
Immigrant students face more challenges to academic success than native-born students. The Next Step offers the institutional support, knowledge and skills they need to transform themselves and to succeed academically and professionally. Although the GED is the country's largest second chance program for high school dropouts, Latino adults have a relatively low level of GED credentials. A large part of the population that The Next Step severs must work full-time or part-time to finance their basic needs. In order to accomodate students, The Next Step offers part-time evening as well as full-time day programs.
- Claire Donahue
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