The San Jose district did away with a two-track high school system and instead demanded that all of its students take a college-prep course of study.
As an aspiring actress, Monica Pérez had to go to Lincoln High School, the magnet campus for visual and performing arts in the San Jose Unified School District.
She spent her freshman year at another school waiting to get into Lincoln High. When she finally started at the popular school near downtown San Jose at the beginning of 10th grade, she marveled at the array of theater, music, and dance classes she could choose from.
But even more striking, she says, was the heavier academic load at Lincoln High, where classes such as Algebra 2, which were electives at her former high school in a neighboring district, were required. To graduate on time from Lincoln High School in 2007, she must take an extra year each of math,...
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