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LAUSD high school wins national award after graduation spike

Craig Clough | June 1, 2015

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Social Justice Humanitas Academy studentThe Social Justice Humanitas Academy in the San Fernando Valley has been honored as one of seven winners of the 2015 National Community Schools Award for Excellence as a result of the school’s huge spike in graduation rates.

The award, which is granted by the The Coalition for Community Schools, highlights schools that successfully partner with community organizations to help increase student achievement. In the case of Social Justice, the school graduation rates increased to 93.9 percent from 83 percent over just the last year.

The reason for the big gains has been attributed to the school’s implementation of Individualized Pupil Education Plans (IPEP). The plans include detailed information on a student’s needs, strengths, how much parents attend conferences and where the student scores on the Search Institute’s list of 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents.

The IPEP is consulted by teachers every five weeks to determine “how teachers and partners involved in the community school can best help struggling students who face the most obstacles,” according to a Coalition for Community Schools press release.

The school’s success in raising graduation rates was also attributed to an aggressive approach to restorative justice practices, which resulted in only .2 percent of students being suspended in the 20013-14 school year.

Another reason Coalition for Community Schools pointed to was its “adoption” practices, in which a teacher, community partners and AmeriCorps members working on campus take added responsibility for following up with specific students to see if they are meeting their goals.

“I am the California teacher of the year, the LAUSD teacher of the year, the L.A. County teacher of the year, and I am National Board certified. Based on these accolades I am one of the most effective teachers my students can have,” Social Justice principal Jose Navarro said in a statement.

“Yet I still have students who fail. I still have students who have needs I can’t meet. We can’t do it alone. My students need all the resources their community can offer. Good teaching alone cannot mitigate the effects of poverty.”

Among the school’s other achievements:

  • 96 percent of students have an Individual Graduation Plan
  • 75 percent of students are passing all college pre-requisite classes
  • 93 percent of students and 95% of parents feel the school grounds are safe
  • The high school exit exam first time pass rates increased to 78 percent from 68 percent  in the last year

The Social Justice Humanitas Academy is located one of four schools located at the Cesar Chavez Learning Academies campus and was opened in 2011 as part of the Public School Choice initiative by LAUSD.



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