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LAUSD graduation rate projection jumps to 63%, may surpass last year’s

Craig Clough | February 19, 2016

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A-G graduation

An LAUSD progress report released this week shows the projected A though G completion rate for the class of 2016 has risen to 63 percent. (Credit: LAUSD)

LA Unified appears to be making significant progress on its projected graduation rate this year through a “very personalized approach,” with a new report stating the district may even surpass last year’s record rate of 74 percent.

A January progress report obtained by LA School Report showed that only 54 percent of seniors were on track to meet their “A though G” course requirements for graduation. That report included all data from the fall semester but did not include any from the district’s $15 million credit recovery program, which began in late fall. But now a new progress report including some data from the credit recovery program shows that 63 percent of seniors are on track to complete their A-G courses.

According to the report released Friday, 17 percent of seniors are missing only one or two courses. With the credit recovery program making progress on getting many of them into the courses they need, “there is optimism,” said LA Unified Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson.

“These two predictive bands (63 percent + 17 percent) could potentially result in exceeding the 2014-15 graduation rates, with higher expectations. We continue to provide additional pathways through our A-G recovery efforts as we continue an ‘all means all’ performance mindset,” the report states.

Gipson explained how the district has been consistently raising the projected A-G completion rate since the fall, when it was pegged at 49 percent.

“We have school site interventions. We have local district superintendents who designed and crafted individual plans to meet the needs of each school,” Gipson said. “Each director came along with their superintendents and went out to each school site.”

She added, “It even got to the level of interviewing students about their expectations about A-G and what their pathways are. So there was a very personalized approach. … If a student was behind one or two classes, we sat down with them and said here are the options that are available at your school, at adult school, at your option school, at your community school, so it really is a targeted and personalized approach.”

A potential drop in the graduation rate has been expected for years due to more stringent requirements that go into effect for the first time this year. The new standards call on students to complete a series of courses — dubbed A through G — that would make them eligible for acceptance to California public universities.

The A-G plan was first drawn up in 2005, but the district did not organize a sound implementation plan in preparation for the new standards. Last year, when the district realized it was facing a huge drop in the graduation rate this year, the school board debated dropping the requirements but in a June resolution opted to keep them. The resolution amended the requirements so that students only need to earn a “D” in the A-G classes and not the “C” that would be required for college eligibility starting in 2017. This year’s class was always to be allowed a “D” to meet A-G requirements.

The credit recovery program was given a $15 million budget for the fiscal year to help bridge the A-G gap for the class of 2016. The district does have a comprehensive and longer term A-G plan, but it does not begin until next school year.

King, who was promoted to superintendent in January, has called on her office to receive weekly updates throughout this semester on A-G progress. The district also began sending out monthly letters in February to parents and guardians of students who are off track informing them of the courses they need to complete.

Gipson said as more students complete credit recovery courses the projected graduation rate will be updated throughout the semester.

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