The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools adds Grape Street Elementary to its network
Craig Clough | August 11, 2016
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The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and LA Unified announced today that Grape Street Elementary in Watts will be added into the organization’s network of schools. It will be the 19th school the nonprofit organization will now operate.
“The district approached us about supporting Grape Street, and the promise there is as great as the need, so we are excited to get involved,” said Partnership CEO Joan Sullivan.
The five-year memorandum of understanding signed between the district and the Partnership “includes a plan to strengthen instructional practices, implement socio-emotional learning, support teacher and school leader development and increase parent engagement,” according to a press release from the Partnership.
The Partnership schools in South LA, Watts and Boyle Heights are part of a nonprofit started by former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2007 while he was still in office. Although still considered traditional district schools, they receive extra funding and support through philanthropic donations and coordination with over 1,000 public and private partners.
The Partnership targets struggling schools and has a track record of improving student performance. According to the Partnership, the organization’s graduation rate has more than doubled, from 36 percent to 77 percent, since its inception, and the organization says it has also seen gains every year on math and literacy assessments. The Partnership last month added 20th Street Elementary to its network, ending a two-year “parent trigger” battle at the school.
One thing that made Grape Street a good fit for the Partnership is that it is a feeder school for Markham Middle School and Jordan High School, which are already part of the Partnership network.
“The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools has been an exceptional partner to LA Unified,” said Local Area South Superintendent Chris Downing in a statement. “This is the second year in a row we have asked them to partner with us in order to propel the progress at our school sites.”
Grape Street has struggled in recent performance indicators. On the California Office of Reform Education (CORE) school accountability system, which was released this year, Grape Street scored a 30 out of 100, while the average score at LA Unified was 60. On the 2015 Smarter Balanced standardized tests, 14 percent of Grape Street students met or exceeded the English language arts test standard and 13 percent met or exceeded the math standard, compared to 33 percent for the district as a whole in English and 25 percent for the district in math.
Grape Street in the 2015-16 school year had a total of 623 students, according to the California Department of Education. Seventy-one percent were Latino, 26 percent were African-American, 43 percent were English learners and 95 percent qualify for free and reduced price lunch.
Sullivan said parents and students at Grape Street “can expect to see a commitment. We are in it for the long haul. We are excited to work with these schools not just over months, but over years and decades,” Sullivan said. “From a macro perspective, we are a capacity building organization, so we invest in building capacity among the adults who serve our children.”