Washington Metropolitan High School (DC Met) is an alternative school with a devoted staff. To district leaders, it is a failure. To many of the school's students, it is home - a safe haven from sometimes unsparingly difficult lives. 180 Days: A Year inside an American High School provides an intimate portrait of this fledgling school's day-to-day stories. The film invites viewers in for an unprecedented first-hand account of life inside of Washington, D.C.'s volatile school reform movement. Staff and students at DC Met put a human face on policy debates. As teachers, administrators, and support staff struggle to help students navigate a wide range of life challenges - the death of a parent, becoming a parent, homelessness, violence, and more - they also work to help students succeed on mandated, standardized tests. The results of those tests affect more than just the students' futures; they will be used to determine teacher pay, school funding, and staff job security. Accustomed to a district graduation rate that, for years has hovered near twenty-five percent, few people expect the students to do well. But the spirit and resilience of these "at risk" students defies expectations.