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In a narrow sample, Parent Trigger schools show gains

Vanessa Romo | October 9, 2014

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CST Life Science (5th-Grade) two LAUSD schools parent triggerWhen California’s first set of “Parent Trigger” schools in Adelanto Unified and LA Unified were taken over in 2013, the expectation was that a once failing school could turn innovative teaching and learning methods into academic improvement.

Advocates of the controversial law argued that that an overhaul was required for progress. Short of parent testimonials, advocates have had little evidence to prove themselves right since the state suspended standardized testing as districts transition to the Common Core.

Until now.

One set of statewide tests — the California Standards Test in science, strangely omitted from the testing ban — suggests students at the triggered schools have made impressive progress over the last two years.

True, the testing sample is quite small, but the results are positive.

Of the fifth graders who took the science exam at 24th Street Elementary, the first school within LA Unified to undergo a complete overhaul, almost twice as many scored Proficient on the exam over those who took the test in the pre-trigger year 2013. The percentage of students who rated as Advanced skyrocketed to 33 from 2.

Ben Austin, founder of Parent Revolution, a non-profit group that helped the two schools organize their petition to pull the parent trigger, conceded that the single test is a narrow measuring stick but insisted that it’s an indicator of wider success.

At 24th Street, LA Unified runs pre-K through fourth grade while Crown Preparatory Academy runs fifth through eighth grades.

“Potentially, the test scores speak to two things,” he told LA School Report, referring to the hybrid nature of the campus. “One is the value for children in these types of collaborative partnerships when adults put their ideological differences aside.”

“And it speaks to the very good work that Crown Prep has done as a charter school.”

At Desert Trails Preparatory Academy, formerly Desert Trails Elementary, which was the first in the country to be converted into a charter school as a result of California’s Parent Empowerment law, students made even more impressive gains. More students tested Advanced or Proficient in science than anytime in the past 10 years, including almost four times as many as those in 2013.

In addition to 24th Street Elementary, a handful of other LA Unified schools have leveraged the parent trigger law to make changes on campus: Haddon Avenue Elementary in Pacoima, West Athens Elementary and Lenox Elementary in Baldwin Hills, and Weigand Elementary in Watts.

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