Charter School Graduates are Finding Success in College

A recent report released by The 74 revealed that students that attended charter schools are now graduating from college at up to five times above the national average. Before the charter school revolution, the strategic goal of the traditional school system was keeping students “on track” to graduate from high school so that they could gain admittance into college; a seemingly sufficient educational goal. However, about a decade ago the charter school educators in an effort to be held accountable for their students once they graduated from high school, insisted that they would change the way they defined success. One of the largest and best known charter networks in the country, KIPP, adjusted its college program name from “KIPP To College” to “KIPP Through College”, thus shifting an entire movement towards equipping students with the skills to not just get into college but to graduate from college. Now extremely positive results are showing. The following college graduation rates were published by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools on July 27th of 2017:
Uncommon Schools: 50% graduation rate from college
YES Prep Public Schools: 47% graduation rate
KIPP Public Charter Schools: 38% graduation rate
Achievement First: 32% graduation rate

Keys for Success

The four basic keys that all of the programs are based upon are worth taking a look at for every high school student. Whether attending a charter school or not, it’s becoming increasingly clear that students who plan well while still in high school are much more likely to achieve their college graduation within four to six years and align their college studies with their ultimate life goals. Students are encouraged to focus on these keys throughout their high school years while attending a charter school, well before actually applying to the college of their choice:
1. Set Goals –
This includes what colleges a student may wish to attend and knowing what grades and test scores are required for admittance (e. g. GPA, ACT & SAT).
2. Start Early –
Most high school students simply wait too long. Starting early can help ensure that a student is well qualified and prepared for college and afterwards.
3. Keep Score –
Keeping track throughout a student’s high school years allows them to make adjustments to the reality of admission to the colleges that they plan on applying to.
4. Plan for the Cost –
Cost is perhaps one of the major limiting factors that a high school graduate will face. They need to learn how to set realistic goals, plan and save. Financial aid availability and avoiding large debt upon graduation from college are critical factors that many high school graduates simply are not exposed to.

Not A Surprise To Mike Hess at Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP

Mike Hess, a Partner at Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad LLP, and Head of the firm’s charter school accounting department wasn’t too surprised. “We work shoulder to shoulder with the leadership teams of many charter schools to support financial compliance with their regulators which gives us visibility behind the scenes.  From that perspective, we get to witness in real time, the continuous fine tuning of the administrative and instructional engines set to zero in on exactly these kinds of results. It’s exciting to see strategic discipline payoff for the kids.”


Figure 1

The charter school network serves to educate low-income minority students, whose college graduation rates in 2015 dwindled at 9% in comparison to the 77% of students from the high-income families (Figure 1). Charter school educators are successfully equipping the students with the lowest ‘chance’ of graduating college with the necessary skills to get them through. Furthermore, If private and public schools adopted this movement we have the potential to renovate the entire American education system.


Mike Hess, CPA has brought a dynamic full-service approach to addressing the total needs of Charter Schools in Florida. Exceptional growth of his firm brought a realization that the most efficient way to serve the Charter School industry in the future was to leverage the resources inherent in a larger firm. In November, 2015, the decision was made to merge with another established, local CPA firm, Grennan Fender. Today, the combined company, Grennan Fender Hess & Poparad, LLP employs nearly 50 professionals and serves multiple industries across Central Florida and beyond.