By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/kjzxvE
5/11/2011 10:56:12 PM PDT - Five years after Los Angeles Unified passed an ambitious policy requiring all students to take college-required courses to graduate, the rate of students passing those classes remains alarmingly low, according to a district review of the program obtained by the Daily News Tuesday.
Prompted by strong community and political pressure, in 2005 the LAUSD school board approved new rules for high schools requiring all students to pass a series of 15 college prep courses in order to get their diplomas.
The "A-G requirements," which include four years of college prep English and two years of lab science, math and foreign language, were supposed to help increase the low numbers of LAUSD students who were graduating college-ready.
According to district statistics, in 2003 just 36 percent of Latino students, 45 percent of African-American students and 52 percent of white students completed these courses.
Since the passage of that policy, the number of students passing the mandated math, science, English and foreign language classes with a C or better remains dismal. According to the district's review, just 24 percent of Latino students, 20 percent of African-American students and 40 percent of white students are set to graduate this year with all of these courses passed.
New LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who delayed a presentation of the report he commissioned Tuesday, said he plans to make increasing the number of students graduating ready for college a key goal of his administration.
"Obviously we have a long way to go," Deasy said.
"I want to get to 100 percent graduation, but those diplomas need to mean something, and in California that means passing your A-G courses."
According to the report, most LAUSD students are getting access to college-level courses, and 61 percent of all high school classes taught at LAUSD high schools are part of the A-G curriculum. However, the report reveals that individual schools differ greatly in how well they are giving kids access to rigorous courses.
For example, at Daniel Pearl Journalism Magnet High School, 72 percent of all classes taught are college prep courses while at Arleta High less than half meet college requirements.
Some educators explained that this disparity between schools and the low passage rate of students was connected to the district's lack of planning for this far-reaching proposal.
"This plan was never thought out ... there was no strategy for implementation," said former LAUSD board member David Tokofsky, who sat on the school board in 2005. Tokofsky, who voted in favor of the new policy along with his six other colleagues on the board, said the new rules became more about politics than students.
Community activists who advocated for the new rules though, stressed that their battle was an effort to raise the bar for thousands of students who, at the time, were not even allowed to take the courses they needed to gain entry into college.
●● smf's 2¢ | Deasy: "I want to get to 100 percent graduation, but those diplomas need to mean something, and in California that means passing your A-G courses."
- Deasy misspeaks. The A-G requirements are NOT a California requirement to get a diploma, they are an LAUSD requirement.
- The California A-G UC/CSU entry requirement is for students to pass the A-G courses with a grade of "C" or better; the LAUSD requirement is to 'pass' with a "D" or better. Once a student gets a "D" in ANY A-G class he does NOT meet the UC/CSU requirement unless the class is repeated.
- A-G are MINIMUM entry requirements. In the real world students' Grade Point Average, SAT scores, AP course load and testing . work portfolios, application essays, interviews, recommendations and a myriad of other factors come into play.