While LA Unified’s projected graduation rate continues to tick up this spring as seniors complete extra credit recovery courses to make up those they previously failed, 30 percent of those the district considers “on track” for graduation currently aren’t because they are failing at least one A through G class.
To be labeled “on track” a student need only be enrolled in the required A-G courses, and if these failing grades do not improve to at least a D by the end of the semester, these roughly 6,400 seniors would not be eligible to graduate on time — which would drop the current projected graduation rate from 68 percent to 48 percent.
Frances Gipson, LA Unified’s chief academic officer, said a number of actions have been taken to get extra help and resources to the students who are failing a course, and the district is still hopeful that last year’s record graduation rate of 77 percent will be surpassed.
“We are seeking to exceed last year’s expectations, that is our goal,” Gipson told LA School Report.
Due in part to a $15 million credit recovery program that has been aggressively implemented this school year, the projected A-G completion rate has risen steadily, up from 54 percent in January and 63 percent in February to now stand at 68 percent. District officials in February predicted LA Unified may graduate 80 percent of its seniors, which would be an all-time record.
Gipson said the extra help being given to seniors failing an A-G course include having counselors meet with the students and letters sent to the student’s parent or guardian. School counselors “have met with all students in the class of 2016 that are currently on-track but received a fail at the 10-week mark to discuss intervention and supports needed to pass and stay on track,” according to an April 18 memo to Superintendent Michelle King from Gipson and Carol Alexander, director of A-G Intervention and Support.
As far as if the 20 percent failing an A-G course was cause for concern, Cynthia Lim, executive director of LA Unified’s Office of Data and Accountability, said that it was hard to determine what the number meant because “this is new. We’ve never had A-G as a graduation requirement before, so this is all new.”
Gipson added that the 20 percent number “is relatively consistent with past patterns we have seen with students in terms of, as you think about your own child or your friend’s children, there are always those who may be getting a D or an F and we need find out why they may be getting a D or an F. Is it because of attendance? Is it because they need extra tutorial support? Are they not turning in assignments? Do they need extra assignments? I think there are multiple pathways we can explore.”