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Gonez introduces ambitious resolution to ensure LAUSD students succeed in college and careers

Mike Szymanski | August 18, 2017

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Kelly Gonez proposes her first resolution.

New school board member Kelly Gonez is introducing an ambitious resolution that calls for making detailed data available to the public to ensure students are supported and able to complete college and “access a rewarding career.”

With this resolution, called “Creating Pathways to Lifelong Success for Our Students,” Gonez is fulfilling a key campaign promise to help get every LA Unified student ready for higher education or the job force.

Gonez said she hopes the information will be helpful to both parents and educators. “I would also have loved to have had this information as a teacher too,” Gonez said Thursday after spending the first week of school visiting her schools in District 6 in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Among the data she is calling for, within 120 days, is a trend analysis of:

• student grade point averages of 3.0 (a B average) or above

• AP course exams with a score of 3 or higher

• PSAT scores greater than 430 in English and 480 in math

• SAT scores greater than 1550

• completion of FAFSA forms, for college financial aid.

The resolution also calls for a college counseling center available in every high school, every 10th- and 11th-grader taking the SAT, and information about vocational certifications, technical training, and apprenticeships. She also calls for an analysis of 10 years’ worth of college application completion rates, college enrollment rates, remediation or developmental course-taking rates, transfers from two- to four-year institutions, and college completion rates.       

“This is very personal to me and I feel very passionate about it, coming from being a secondary teacher and a first-generation college student in my family,” Gonez said. “I talked a lot about college and career readiness, and it is a top priority, so I wanted to work on making that campaign priority real and meaningful and work with the great work that is happening in the district.”

Her resolution in itself includes paragraphs of data on the district’s cohort graduation rate, the nation’s fastest-growing occupations, LA Unified students’ college-going and persistence rates, and the gap in college graduation rates for low-income students.

School board President Ref Rodriguez said, “I love this idea of tracking the data and what we can learn from that.” He first read the detailed resolution being proposed by Gonez this week. He also said he talked to Superintendent Michelle King on Friday about the amount of data called for, and King said it wouldn’t cause an undue burden. “It’s a little long, but I’m impressed with what her team has put together,” Rodriguez said.

Gonez said she was also aware of not wanting to dictate work to the superintendent’s office. Fellow board member Richard Vladovic, when running against Rodriguez for the president’s post, said he would put a stop to resolutions that dictate policy and tell the superintendent what to do.

Gonez said she spoke to King and received feedback from key staff members before the resolution was made public this week. The resolution will be presented on Tuesday and will be up for a vote at September’s school board meeting.

“I want to work collaboratively and not put any undue burden or sidetrack the work the district is doing in this area,” Gonez said. “I think resolutions shouldn’t micromanage, but I think this works nicely with the strategic plan to get students ready for life, and this is putting more meat on the policy. It will bring the pieces together into one coherent place.”

Gonez has been a champion of more transparency with school data, and she said she wants to see the information available to parents through the Parent Portal and Student Dashboards.

Gonez’s resolution also calls for the superintendent to come up with an estimated timeline, potential limitations, projected costs of staff time and data collection, and a proposal of how the information can be integrated into the schools.

Gonez said she is concerned about a financial burden but asked how much it would cost to make sure every high school has a trained college counselor and a Postsecondary Leadership Team.

“I am also aware of the successes and agreements the district has and want to build on that,” she said. Her resolution calls for expanding partnerships with local community colleges and universities, labor partners, and the city and county.

“The biggest obstacle is how we build this into the culture of the district,” Gonez said. “That takes time, and that is the challenge.”

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