Where is the new money for schools going? A look at the 10 neighborhoods in the Great Public Schools Now plan
Sarah Favot | June 15, 2016
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A plan unveiled today by Great Public Schools Now identifies 10 low-income neighborhoods where the nonprofit will focus its efforts on expanding access to high-performing schools for kids close to where they live.
The neighborhoods were chosen after examining the performance of all LA Unified schools and independent public charter schools in the city and levels of poverty. Performance metrics for schools included 2013 API scores, last year’s Smarter Balanced Assessments and drop-out rates, according to the plan.
Poverty was measured based on the percentage of students who receive free and reduced-price meals as well as income levels of area residents, the plan states.
“The neighborhoods were selected because we looked at the areas of Los Angeles where there were some intersections of both a tremendous amount of need, both in terms of economic impact, but also the paucity of strong performing choices in those neighborhoods and looking at the opportunity we had to really make an impact there,” said GPSN Executive Director Myrna Castrejon.
In its analysis of data, GPSN identified “more than 160,000 low-income students and English language learners who are enrolled in schools whose performance is so dismal that 80 percent of students are learning below grade level.”
“It’s clear there are some very good schools in very low-income neighborhoods, which is our focus,” said Bill Siart, GPSN chairman. “We said, ‘How can we best help the communities in having more quality options.’
“We want to replicate good schools that have already proven to be good schools,” he added.
Siart said most people he hears from base their opinion of a “good school” on whether their students will graduate from high school and will be able to attend a four-year college.
LA School Report used data provided by GPSN of the schools in the 10 identified neighborhoods and compared 2014-15 graduation rate data reported to the California Department of Education for each high school within the identified neighborhood clusters. Below are some findings.
The 10 identified areas, which are actually clusters of neighborhoods in most cases and do not include all portions of the communities, but are rather “pockets of low opportunity” identified by GPSN, are also broken down into categories of need based on the number of students in public schools with a 2013 API of less than 750, which is a benchmark used by LA Unified to measure performance.
Category I: 20,000 to 30,000 students in schools that have an API of less than 750
Neighborhood: Boyle Heights/East LA
Total enrollment: 39,062
69 public schools, including 15 charter schools
20 high schools: 3 charters and 3 schools with “magnet” in their names
Graduation rates: Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School had the lowest graduation rate in the cluster at 71.8 percent, below the district’s average of 72.2 (287 graduated out of a cohort of 400 students), while all 77 seniors who attended the Math, Science & Technology Magnet Academy on the same campus of Roosevelt High graduated last year for a 100 percent graduation rate.
Neighborhood: South Gate
Total enrollment: 53,506
70 schools, including 13 charter schools
19 high schools, including 3 charter high schools
0 schools contain “magnet” in the name
Area includes portions of: Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Maywood, South Gate and Walnut Park.
Graduation rates: Charter school Alliance Collins Family College-Ready High School in Huntington Park had the highest graduation rate in the cluster at 99.4 percent. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics at Legacy High School Complex in South Gate had the lowest graduation rate in the cluster at 61.8 percent.
Neighborhood: Vermont Slauson
Total enrollment: 35,875
57 public schools, including 15 charter schools
17 high schools including 4 charter high schools
1 school with “magnet” in its name, a high school
Graduation rates: Five schools’ graduation rates were below the LA Unified average of 72.2. Augustus F. Hawkins High C Responsible Indigenous Social Entrepreneurship had the lowest graduation rate in the cluster at 58.3. The highest graduation rate was at View Park Preparatory Accelerated High, a charter school, at 95.4.
Total enrollment: 29,931
55 public schools, including 18 charters
15 high schools, including 8 charter high schools
0 schools with “magnet” in the name
Graduation rates: Middle College High had the highest graduation rate in the cluster at 99 percent: 96 of its 97 cohort students graduated. Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy, a charter school, had a low graduation rate of 61.6. Dorothy V. Johnson Community Day School had the lowest graduation rate in the cluster at 2.7 percent.
Category II: 15,000 to 19,999 students in schools that have an API of less than 750
Total enrollment: 42,488
61 schools, including 14 charters
20 high schools, including 6 charters
1 school with “magnet” in its name
Area includes portions of: North Hollywood, Sun Valley, San Fernando, Sylmar and Pacoima.
Graduation rates: This cluster has high-performing charter schools in Partnerships to Uplift Communities high schools on the same campus in Sylmar. PUC Lakeview Charter High had a 97.6 graduation rate, and PUC Triumph Charter High had a 91.5 graduation rate. Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, a K-12 charter school in San Fernando, had a 91.5 graduation rate. Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academies Social Justice Humanitas Academy, a district-run Small Learning Communities high school in San Fernando, had a graduation rate of 90.4. Sun Valley High School had the lowest graduation rate in the cluster at 60.8.
Neighborhood: South L.A.
Total enrollment: 33,342
56 public schools, including 19 charters
18 high schools, including 9 charter high schools
0 schools with “magnet” in the name
Graduation rates: Alliance Patti and Peter Neuwirth Leadership Academy had the highest graduation rate in the cluster at 96.9. Early College Academy at LA Trade Tech had the lowest graduation rate at 38.9 percent, as 35 of 90 cohort students graduated from the program.
Neighborhood: Vermont Square
Total enrollment: 23,499
50 public schools, 20 charters
10 high schools, including 4 charters, one called California Collegiate Charter is opening this August
1 elementary school with “magnet” in its name
Graduation rates: In this cluster, two high school were high performing in terms of the rate of which their students graduated: Crenshaw Arts-Technology Charter High (97.3) and Foshay Learning Center, a K-12 school, (95.7). One school was above average, Manual Arts Senior High (78.6), and two schools were below average, Susan Miller Dorsey Senior High (69.6) and Marlton, a K-12 school, (40).
Neighborhood: Westlake-Pico Union
Total enrollment: 34,945
71 public schools, including 20 charters
23 high schools, including 7 charters
1 elementary school with “magnet” in its name
Graduation rates: Two schools with the highest graduation rates in the cluster were Central City Value (96) and Camino Nuevo High No. 2 (96.6), both charter schools. And two charters had the lowest graduation rates in the cluster, New Village Girls Academy (40.9) and Los Angeles Academy of Arts & Enterprise Charter (56.1).
Category III: less than 15,000 students who attend schools with an API of less than 750
Neighborhood: El Sereno
Total enrollment: 18,447
43 public schools, including 8 charter schools
11 high schools, including 4 charters
1 high school contains “magnet” in its name
Graduation rates: The high school with the highest graduation rate in the area was Alliance Marc & Eva Stern Math and Science, a charter school that ranked #599 in U.S. News and World Report national rankings and #100 in California high schools. Los Angeles Leadership Academy, an independent charter, had the lowest graduation rate in the area; 35 of 52 seniors graduated last year, a rate of 67.3.
Neighborhood: Panorama City
Total enrollment: 30,376
44 public schools, including 9 charters
9 high schools, 2 charter high schools
1 school contains “magnet” in its name
Area includes portions of: Arleta, Van Nuys, North Hills, Panorama City.
Graduation rates: CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts-Multimedia and Performing had the highest graduation rate at 91.2. Van Nuys Senior High had a graduation rate of 85.7. No high school in the cluster had a graduation rate below the district’s average.
*This article has been updated to show that the neighborhood clusters identified by GPSN include portions of communities, not entire communities, and to add some additional graduation rates for schools.