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LAUSD middle schools in the CORE accountability index: the same old story on race and location applies

Craig Clough | April 21, 2016



Despite for the first time taking into consideration the performance of subgroups like English learners, students with disabilities and those from low-income families, there is still a wide gulf between the top and bottom LA Unified middle schools at LA Unified when it comes to their score on the California Office to Reform Education’s (CORE) new school accountability index. And it breaks down along familiar lines: where you live and the color of your skin. 

The CORE index, which was unveiled in February, is the first school accountability system in California to move beyond just tests scores. The CORE formula that gives a school a score of 1 to 100 includes consideration for the standardized test performance of a school’s lowest performing racial subgroup, English learners, students with disabilities and those qualifying for a free and reduced price lunch. It also accounts for graduation rates, suspension rates and absenteeism, all in an effort to give schools “the ability to take a more complex, comprehensive look at what is going on in their school,” John McDonald, a consultant to CORE, said when the system was unveiled.

• Read LA School Report’s analysis of CORE data for LAUSD schools.

• Why the CORE system was developed and why it is only temporary.

• Why charter schools aren’t included in the CORE data. 

• The top and bottom LAUSD elementary schools in the CORE data. 

A look at the top and bottom performing middle schools at LA Unified on the CORE index shows many of the same disparities found with systems that relied just on test scores: Schools with more white students and in high-income areas significantly outperformed schools with minorities and low incomes.

LA Unified middle schools in the top five were made up of 40.78 percent white students, even though whites total only 9.8 percent of the student body overall. Four of the schools were in white, affluent areas of the city in the Westside and the San Fernando Valley. (See above map.) The bottom five schools, however, were clustered near each other in South Los Angeles, with student bodies that had 75.4 percent Latino students, higher than the district average, which is 74 percent for the 2015-16 school year.

Asians, who make up 6 percent of the district, made up 0.04 percent of the bottom schools and 11.9 percent of the top schools. African Americans, who make up 8.4 percent of the district, made up 8.46 percent of the top schools and 17.96 percent of the bottom schools. 

There were also disparities between the top and bottom schools in the percentage of English leaners (7.18 percent to 28.5 percent), students with disabilities (8 percent to 16.25 percent) and those qualifying for free and reduced price lunch (37.02 percent to 89.52 percent).

Blogger Benjamin Feinberg of LA School Data, a teacher at LA Unified’s Luther Burbank Middle School who has also taught at charters, is one person who is dissatisfied with the CORE index. He applied an equalizing formula to the CORE data that he says “levels the playing field” when it comes to the challenging demographics some schools face. He wrote:

“I ran a regression and gave each school a score I am calling the FO’REAL Score. This model takes the demographics of a school (socioeconomic status, students with special needs population, English learner population and ethnicity makeup) and predicts a score based on those factors, as seen in the trend across all schools. I then compared their actual score to their predicted score by subtracting the two – a positive difference means they outperformed expectations and a negative score means they under-performed.

 

“I took it one step further and gave them a percentile rank – what percent of LAUSD schools did they do better than? For example, if you got a 65%, your school did better than 65% of all LAUSD schools.”

Applying the Fo’Real index to a number of the top and bottom middle schools can change how a school ranks, with some schools doing better and others doing worse based on the “predicted outcome” they should have achieved. Click here to test it out.

CORE and LA Unified have so far not released any analysis or number crunching they have done on the CORE numbers.

“The data in education lags. That’s what I find as an educator myself,” Feinberg told LA School Report when asked why he had analyzed the CORE data. “People don’t realize the data is out there until a person like myself gets the ball rolling and then people start looking at it. I was surprised (the district did not analyze the data).”

Of the top five middle schools, three (Alfred B. Nobel Charter, Hesby Oaks Leadership and Paul Revere Charter) are affiliated charters and one, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, is a magnet school. None of the bottom five schools is a magnet or affiliated charter.

TOP FIVE LAUSD MIDDLE SCHOOLS ON CORE INDEX

Alfred B. Nobel Charter (2014-15)
1963 East 103rd St., Los Angeles 90002
CORE score: 91
Latino: 38.5%
African American: 5.3%
White: 29.9%
Asian: 15.5%
English learners: 1.9%
Students with disabilities: not available
Free and reduced lunch: 36.1%

Hesby Oaks Leadership (2015-16)
15530 Hesby St., Encino 91436
CORE score: 90
Latino: 14%
African American: 3%
White: 71%
Asian: 6%
English learners: 5%
Students with disabilities: 8%
Free and reduced lunch: 36.1% (2014-15)

Robert Frost Middle (2015-16)
12314 Bradford Place, Granada Hills 91344
CORE score: 89
Latino: 64%
African American: 4%
White: 21%
Asian: 8%
English learners: 4%
Students with disabilities: 10%
Free and reduced lunch:  54.4%

Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (2015-16)
5931 W 18th St., Los Angeles  90035
CORE score: 88
Latino: 31%
African American: 18%
White: 28%
Asian: 21%
English learners: 2%
Students with disabilities: 4%
Free and reduced lunch: 35%

Paul Revere Charter Middle (2015-16)
1450 Allenford Ave, Los Angeles 90049
CORE score: 87
Latino: 21%
African American: 12%
White: 54%
Asian: 9%
English learners: 23%
Students with disabilities: 10%
Free and reduced lunch: 23.5%

BOTTOM FIVE LAUSD MIDDLE SCHOOLS ON CORE INDEX

Edwin Markham Middle (2015-16)
1650 E 104th St., Los Angeles 90002
CORE score: 23
Latino: 78%
African American: 21%
White: 0%
Asian: 0%
English learners: 29%
Students with disabilities: 17%
Free and reduced lunch: 88.2%

Samuel Gompers Middle (2015-16)
234 E 112th St, Los Angeles 90061
CORE score: 27
Latino: 62%
African American: 36%
White: 0%
Asian: 0%
English learners: 25%
Students with disabilities: 19%
Free and reduced lunch: 87.5%

Horace Mann Junior High (2015-16)
7001 S St Andrews Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90047
CORE Score: 28
Latino: 50%
African American: 21%
White: 0%
Asian: 0%
English learners: 29%
Students with disabilities: 17%
Free and reduced lunch: 82.4%

Thomas A Edison Middle (2015-16)
6500 Hooper Ave., Los Angeles 90001
CORE score: 28
Latino: 96%
African American: 4%
White: 0%
Asian: 0%
English learners: 25%
Students with disabilities: 12%
Free and reduced lunch: 98.5%

George Washington Carver Middle (2014-15)
4410 McKinley Ave., Los Angeles 90011
CORE score: 32
Latino: 91%
African American: 7.8%
White: 0.3%
Asian: 0.2%
English learners: 28.9%
Students with disabilities: not available
Free and reduced lunch: 91%

Coming next: The top and bottom LAUSD high schools. 

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