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One principal's "war board" strategy to get to graduation

For the principal of Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School, getting his seniors to graduation may require keeping track of them all, one by one.

As part of The Big Fix — the year-long series we’re doing in partnership with WNYC — WNYC’s education reporter Beth Fertig is following Chelsea High School as its teachers and staff try to boost their students’ performance. During a recent visit to the school, Fertig saw how Chelsea’s principal, Brian Rosenbloom, is charting his students’ paths to graduation:

The “war board” is a giant dry erase board where Rosenbloom tracks the progress of his juniors and seniors. Next to each name, in bright-colored ink, he’s written how many Regents exams and credits the student needs to graduate. The right side of the board has about 110 seniors. When they started as ninth-graders, there were about 200 of them. Some are still juniors or sophomores. Dozens dropped out or transferred.

“When I got here, an inordinate, inordinate amoung of those kids didn’t pass the Regents. A huge number of kids had zero to two credits,” Rosenbloom says.

The number of students Rosenbloom has to keep track of has been falling. Five years ago, the school had more than 1,000 students and when Rosenbloom arrived at the school two years ago, it had 952 students. Now, enrollment has dropped to just over 540 students. As the city has scaled down Chelsea’s enrollment, it has also opened new small schools in the same building.

Listen to Fertig’s complete radio story on Chelsea High School here.

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