Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.
The mission of the East Mountain High School Foundation is to partner with East Mountain High School and the surrounding community to create exceptional public educational opportunities. Our donors and volunteers contribute resources that enable the school to achieve its mission of preparing each student to succeed in college and beyond.
In New Mexico, students face limited educational opportunities. According to the American Diploma Project, fewer than 20% of New Mexican students will earn a bachelor’s degree within ten years of beginning high school. Fewer than 70% of those students will even earn a high school diploma. In today’s world, students without high school diplomas and college degrees face a harsh world of low-paying jobs with little economic security.
East Mountain High School has a mission to ensure that every student graduates from high school prepared to succeed in college, career and citizenship. As a public charter school, East Mountain High School admits students regardless of academic background, family income or other factors. There are no admissions tests and no tuition to pay. The school draws students from small communities in the East Mountains outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As of 2015, East Mountain High School has made great gains towards achieving its goal of preparing all students for future success in college and careers. Improved college counseling has helped many students better plan for their futures, and improved access to dual credit classes has helped many students graduate from high school will up to a year of college already completed. In the next three to five years, East Mountain plans to continue these efforts to reach the ambitious goals set by its Governing Council: a 90% college admissions rate, a 65% college graduation rate and a 40% rate of students scoring college-ready or above on all four ACT subjects. Ultimately, the East Mountain wants to serve as a model of public college-preparatory education in the state of New Mexico. Too many schools serve up one model of comprehensive education in a one-size-fits all manner. East Mountain’s insight has been to remodel the high school experience into one more appropriate to helping 21st century students reach their goals.
East Mountain High School is using the strategy of an early college high school to accomplish our long-term goal of helping more students graduate from high school and earn a four-year college degree within six years of graduation. The early college high school approach blends college classes into the high school curriculum through the use of dual credit. Dual credit are college courses that have been approved by the state to count for both high school and college credit. An example of a dual credit class offered on the East Mountain High School campus in English 1101/1102, which also counts as high school English 12. By using an early college high school model, high school students are encouraged to take college classes as soon as they are ready for them beginning sophomore year. These college classes and textbooks are free to the student, which represents a substantial savings. They also have the results of building the confidence of students in their ability to handle college-level work, which is especially important for students who may be the first in their family to enroll in college. National studies support the use of this model and document high college-enrollment and graduation rates, especially for low-income and minority students.
East Mountain High School is well-placed to accomplish the goals it has identified as priorities over the next five years. As an independent public charter school, the school is led by a volunteer Governing Council, who provides guidance to the school. The membership of the Governing Council includes a Regent of the University of New Mexico, who helps connect the school to resources at the higher education level. The school is also supported by the East Mountain High School Foundation, which raises money to support the school and also owns and maintains the school facility. Over the fifteen year history of the school, East Mountain High School has raised over $3 million in grant funding from well-respected funders such as the Walton Family Foundation, the Daniels Fund and the Challenge Foundation. The school is led by Monique Siedshlag. As Principal, she brings over two decades of school leadership experience to the school. East Mountain High School was named one of America’s Best High Schools by Newsweek and a Bronze Star School by U.S. News and World Report in 2015 and was recognized by the New Mexico Public Education Department for its best practices by the NM Best program.
East Mountain High School uses a variety of metrics to measure progress towards our intended impact. Some of these are state-mandated, such as the PARCC assessment of Common Core standards, and other are chosen for their value to measuring students’ progress towards college readiness, such as the ACT.
As a school that has set its sights on college preparedness for each student, EMHS has sought long-term benchmarks against which to measure its success. In 2009, the Governing Council approved the following long-term goals:
- by year 2015, EMHS will have a graduation rate, as defined by Federal policy, of 90% or higher, further,
- by year 2020, 95% of EMHS graduates will be accepted to each graduate’s first or second choice of four-year college, those choices made with the active support and agreement of the EMHS guidance and faculty team; further,
- by the year 2020, EMHS will rank favorably among all schools assessed on the (to be provided) instrument used for international comparisons. EMHS will rank in the top 10% of all U.S. schools sampled with that instrument, and EMHS will rank with the schools in the top 10% of all countries for which the results of public high schools measured by that instrument is published.
- by the year 2026 EMHS graduates entering four-year college will graduate with degree at a rate 5% higher than the median rate at which high school graduates entering four year college complete degrees in six years in the top five states in the USA.
East Mountain High School uses the National Student Clearinghouse to track student progress towards college-graduation after receiving their high school diploma, as using self-reporting is no reliable enough to gather accurate information.
East Mountain High School has been demonstrating progress towards its long-term goal by achieving near term objectives by improving the college-readiness outcomes of each graduating class.
The Class of 2015 (87 students) earned an average of 15.2 college credits per student and an average of $28,036 in scholarship dollars per student. Two students earned over 40 college credits, and 21 out of 87 students received the New Mexico Higher Education Scholars Award for having at least at 3.5 GPA and a 26 on the ACT. A year previously, the average college credits per student was only 11.7 credits per student and the average scholarship amount was only $23,050 per student. The average ACT score of the Class of 2015 was slightly lower than the Class of 2014, but this is not unusual with the small sizes of under 100 being measured. East Mountain High School is sensitive to the risk of only measuring educational success through student test scores, which are not able to measure the full spectrum of skills, talents, attitudes and habits of minds required for students to experience success after high school. For that reason, teachers make use of experiential learning, project-based learning, service-learning, portfolios and presentations to develop a rounded experience that reaches the whole student.