Although numerous reports and investigations point to the ineffectiveness of inner-city schools in helping their students--who are likely to be poor and people of color--to receive a quality education..
Although numerous reports and investigations point to the ineffectiveness of inner-city schools in helping their students--who are likely to be poor and people of color--to receive a quality education, some often-overlooked students are excelling. This paper investigates the factors that affect the academic success of low-income, high-achieving students of color in such schools, using social capital as a theoretical framework. Secondary literature review and case studies (including grade analysis, surveys, and interviews) of 29 Chicago Public High School students who have been selected to participate in the ACI Chicago Scholars Program reveal that students who excel have support systems and a network of relations, in the family, community, school, and among peers. They are those students to whom attention is given through channels such as tracking and magnet schools, those students with access to resources, and those of whom much is expected (both from self and others). Preliminary results indicate that although some Chicago Scholars are struggling in high school, the majority, with support from school and family, seem well-prepared to continue their record of academic success and to attend college. The Chicago Scholars Program (designed to provide high school mentoring and subsequent college scholarships), while theoretically functioning to serve many various social capital needs of the students, has had difficulties in doing so, primarily because of organizational and subcontracting complications.