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LAUSD graduation crisis: no district area is untouched

Craig Clough | February 12, 2016

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graduationLA Unified’s graduation crisis is hitting every local district and nearly every large high school, from the San Fernando Valley to the South Bay, and from East LA to the Westside.

Recent internal progress reports obtained by LA School Report show only 54 percent of seniors are currently on track to meet their “A through G” course requirements for graduation, but the reports also show the problem is spread throughout the district, as 55 of its 59 traditional high schools with more than 200 students show a projected graduation rate behind last year’s districtwide rate of 74 percent.

LA Unified Superintendent Michelle King recently issued an “all hands on deck” call to flood as many resources and support as possible to schools and students in need. And it appears the help will be needed nearly everywhere, as the progress reports show there is little variation in the projected A-G completion rate between LA Unified’s six local districts. The South District has a projected 52 percent A-G completion rate, which is the lowest, while the West has the highest at 56 percent.

Filtering out small schools, continuation schools that focus on struggling students and special education schools, LA School Report identified 59 high schools with a senior enrollment over 200 students. Among those schools, only five of them are ahead of last year’s graduation rate of 74 percent.

A-GSome schools are significantly behind. Dr Maya Angelou Community High School and Roosevelt High are the district’s two lowest performing schools for A-G completion, both with 37 percent of seniors on track to graduate. Fremont High (39 percent), Dorsey High (41 percent), Verdugo Hills High (43 percent) and Cangoa Park High (44 percent) are also near the bottom. (See above graphic for the bottom 15 schools for A-G completion.)

The top performing schools for A-G completion are Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (89 percent), King-Drew Senior High Medicine and Science Magnet (88 percent), Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies (82 percent), Francisco Bravo Senior High Medical Magnet (81 percent) and Orthopaedic Hospital Senior High Medical Magnet (79 percent).

The projected A-G numbers do not include the district’s $15 million credit recovery program, which is being implemented on a wide scale. While district leaders have reported a high level of participation, is still unknown to what level students are passing the courses.

Local District South Superintendent Christopher Downing reported that nearly every student in his district short of A-G credits has been enrolled in the program, which is ongoing.

“We feel it is going very well,” Downing said. “Our credit recovery efforts are ongoing and they are across the district on a weekly basis. We’re looking at student progress in our courses and identifying students who are struggling and offering additional support to our schools.”

Despite the stark numbers of the current projections, Downing stressed that he believed the credit recovery program was going to make a significant impact on graduation numbers.

“Just to be clear, I think [the graduation rate] is going to shake out well across our district,” Downing said. “Superintendent King has emphasized that the graduation of our students is a focus for the district. I’m sure you are aware her motto is, ‘All hands on deck.'”

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