’180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School’ Premieres Mar. 25 at 9pm on PBS

*180 DAYS:  A YEAR INSIDE AN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL is an intimate portrait of life for the first graduating class of Washington Metropolitan High School (DC Met), a public school in Washington, D.C, where only seven percent of students are deemed “proficient” in math and only 19 percent in reading. With unprecedented access to students and teachers throughout the school year, 180 DAYS airs Monday-Tuesday, March 25-26, 2013, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS.  The program is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), that helps communities nationwide understand and implement solutions to address the high school dropout crisis.

“One million students drop out of high school every year, short changing their future and with negative impact on their families and their communities,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB.  “With trusted content and reporting as a centerpiece to the American Graduate initiative, public radio and television stations have joined with local business leaders, educators, parents, and community organizations to address the causes of the complex dropout issue by identifying resources and showcasing strategies that are helping to turn the tide and keep students on a path to a high school diploma.”

Produced by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), 180 DAYS chronicles the lives of teachers, students, administrators and parents struggling to keep their students on track to graduation at DC Met. The inner-city school embodies the complex challenges of adapting to the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” school reform initiative, in which school funding and personnel decisions are based in large part on the results of high-stakes standardized tests.

At the center of 180 DAYS is a charismatic and outspoken young principal, Tanishia Williams Minor, who is in her second year as head of the school. Despite low test scores and  numerous other issues, Principal Minor remains optimistic that her students can succeed despite the personal and academic obstacles they face and the scrutiny that she and the school are under from the administration at DC Public Schools. Her optimism that the students can succeed seems indefatigable, but even she admits, “I believe we can move mountains, but the students have to be here for us to do it.”

Students featured in this film include soft-spoken but wise-beyond-years Raven Coston, a 17-year-old who was displaced from New Orleans with her family by Hurricane Katrina and is now trying to get through school while raising a baby, maintaining a relationship with the baby’s father and working part-time; Raven Quattlebaum, an 18-year-old senior who grew up in the foster care system and who used to spend her days robbing and assaulting people, but is determined to turn her life around and go to college; Rufus McDowney, a bright and charasmatic16-year-old sophomore who has been in and out of the juvenile justice system since the age of 13; Tiara Parker, an aspirational 18-year-old senior who has good grades but may not be able to afford college; and Delaunte Bennett, an 18-year-old …read more