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Joshua Martinez grew up in poverty in a neighborhood where selling drugs is a way of life. At 16, he quit school, but soon feared he had put himself on a dead-end path. Seeking a better life, he enrolled in an alternative school specifically for high school dropouts. There, a debate arises among faculty at the school: For students who are far behind grade level, how much should we really expect? What’s more important, building confidence and relationships, or academic mastery? Where’s the line for who deserves a diploma? We explore these questions through intimate portraits of students, like Joshua, as they fight to graduate.

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