Only roughly one in two LAUSD high school seniors is currently on track to graduate, and the district is scrambling to get extra assistance to an estimated 15,000 students in danger of being left behind this June.
According to internal district reports obtained by LA School Report, an estimated 54 percent of seniors are on track to meet their “A through G” requirements. The actual graduation rate could be even lower as there are several other requirements to graduate.
While the estimate is a stark drop from last year’s all-time high of 74 percent, it has been known for years that the district was facing a steep decline this year, when stricter graduation requirements went into effect.
But while the drop was anticipated, the recent internal reports showing a 27 percent plunge from last spring’s rate elicited an alert from the superintendent directing urgent new steps, including weekly updates from staff and letters sent monthly to parents, starting in February, informing them of the necessary courses that need to be completed.
The district would not disclose how many seniors had received “off track” letters this month. According to data available in October, the district had 33,420 seniors in the 2015-16 school year, meaning an estimated 15,373 would currently be off track for graduation.
The new estimate does not reflect progress by a $15-million credit recovery program begun last fall that puts students in specials classes after school and during breaks to help them pass classes they previously failed. District leaders in November had reported an extremely high participation rate in the program and predicted a high pass rate, which if proves true could land the 2016 graduation rate close to last year’s.
Still, despite the optimism over the ongoing credit recovery program, Superintendent Michelle King wrote in a January email to local district superintendents, “This is ‘all hands on deck.'” The email was sent a week after she was installed as superintendent, and King also created a timeline that calls for regular updates to her office as well as benchmarks for the district to meet between now and the end of the semester.