School-by-school breakdown shows continued improvement on LAUSD’s projected grad rate
Craig Clough | March 8, 2016
LA Unified’s $15 million credit recovery program has already been making a big impact on its projected high school graduation rate this year, and a school-by-school breakdown report released by the district shows that the progress is across the board.
The report, which highlights how many students are on track to complete their “A through G” courses required for graduation, shows that since the end of the fall semester, every traditional high school in the district not on a 4×4 block schedule has improved its projected completion rate. (Statistics on the handful of schools on the non-traditional 4×4 schedule, which allows students to take more classes, will be more accurately compiled after March 21.)
The school-by-school breakdowns were put together in part so that the district can flood extra resources to the schools that need it most and have helped identify schools that will take part in a special credit recovery session over spring break, according to Carol Alexander, director of the district’s A-G Intervention and Support.
“We are piloting some different programs and looking out right now, as we pilot these, we are really seeking out best practices and learning from the field what’s working and not working,” Alexander said.
Broken down by board district, the report gives each school a color coding of red, yellow or green, with green indicating a completion rate of over 70 percent, yellow indicating a completion rate of 69 to 50 percent, and red indicating a completion rate of less than 50 percent. As of Feb. 29, 63 schools with a traditional schedule were marked green, 42 were yellow and four were red.
All had made improvements since the fall, and some with dramatic results. For example, the Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies Los Angeles River School jumped from a red 42 percent to 69 percent, and Sun Valley High from 32 percent to 60 percent.
“We are looking at matching if not increasing the graduation rate we experienced last year,” Alexander said.
During the upcoming spring break, 12 schools that are either in the red or low-yellow category will be organizing a special credit recovery session offered through the adult education department and also paid for through its budget, and not through the $15 million credit recovery program. Other high schools will also be offering special spring break credit recovery sessions through the $15 million program, Alexander said.
“Across the board, all of our high schools are putting their arms around our students and utilizing spring break,” Alexander said.
In the report, LA Unified’s Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson pointed to the “personalized” approach the district has been taking to A-G completion, meaning each school has an A-G report on each student and has contacted each student off track to offer corrective credit recovery options.
“I want to underscore that the personalization of efforts with our leaders, teachers and counselors is what is improving the opportunities for the class of 2016,” Gipson wrote.
The district’s massive credit recovery program was enacted this school year to help counter-balance a graduation crisis that would have likely occurred without it. This year is the first graduating class that will need to fulfill a lineup of courses called “A through G” that make students eligible for acceptance to admission to California’s public universities if they get a “C” grade or higher.
As a result of the higher standards, the projected graduation rate this October was 49 percent. Around the same time the district began to offer seniors special credit recovery courses — many of them online — that help them make up credits they previously failed through an accelerated program taken during free periods, after school, on weekends and on breaks.
Due to the success of the credit recovery program, the projected graduation rate has jumped officially to 63 percent, with district officials predicting last year’s record-high rate of 74 percent will likely be matched or exceeded.
Despite its success, the credit recovery program is not without its detractors, as some academic scholars and institutions are questioning the rigor and value of the courses. Gipson has defended the value of the courses as academically sound.