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By the numbers: Did ‘all hands on deck’ save LA Unified’s sinking graduation rate?

Craig Clough | June 14, 2016



LA Unified began the new year facing a formidable challenge, as only 54 percent of its senior class was projected to be on track for passing all their A through G standards, a series of courses required for acceptance into California’s public universities. The new, higher graduation standards went into effect for the first time this year.

But an “all hands on deck” call from the district’s superintendent, Michelle King, along with aggressive implementation of a $15 million credit recovery program, may have saved the district from a sizable drop-off in its graduation rate. District officials have actually predicted the rate will now rise this year to 80 percent, although preliminary estimates won’t be available until November.

Check out the above graphic to see how the district’s graduation rate has looked since the 2009-10 school year, which is the first year the state started using four-year cohort graduation rates as the official measuring stick.

The prediction of an 80 percent graduation rate made by the district was not official, but more anecdotal and based on the high number of students enrolled in credit recovery programs to complete their A through G courses. The last official projection was 68 percent, but the district won’t be doing any more projections until the preliminary rate is announced in November.

Here’s how the LA Unified projections for A through G completion have looked since the fall:

As of April, with 68 percent on track for A-G completion and poised to graduate, a large number of students may still be left behind, whether the district achieves 80 percent or not. There are also graduation requirements beyond A-G, which could impact the numbers. Dropout rates are not yet available for this year’s class, but the class of 2014-15 experienced 6,095 dropouts. One of the district’s five official goals is “100 percent graduation,” and even if the district reaches a new record of 80 percent of its 31,808 seniors graduating, that means more than 6,000 students won’t graduate. And those are in addition to thousands of students who have dropped out of the class over the last four years.

When it comes to this year’s graduating class, there was still a lot of work the district needed to do upon the last projection. Within the 68 percent “on track” to meet their A-G standards was a significant portion failing at least one class after 10 weeks. Here’s how things looked at the last projection on April 4 for the district’s 31,808 seniors:

If LA Unified is able to get to an 80 percent graduation rate this year, it also would represent a significant jump in A-G completion. Here’s how the A-G completion rates have looked since 2010:

Even if LA Unified does reach 80 percent, or simply surpasses last year’s record of 72 percent, it still is behind the state as a whole:

 

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