Friday, June 21, 2013


By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News | Pasadena Star-News

06/20/2013 06:03:21 PM PDT    Los Angeles Unified's incoming freshmen class will be the first that will have to pass a rigorous college-prep curriculum with a "C" in order to get a diploma, which has district officials scrambling to identify and replicate successful programs that can get and keep students on track to graduation, Superintendent John Deasy said Thursday.

Speaking at a downtown forum on progress in implementing the so-called A-G curriculum for all students, Deasy said administrators and teachers are working this summer to analyze test scores and other data for the members of the Class of 2017 and ensure that students are scheduled into college-prep courses.

At the same time, district leaders are homing in on schools that have promising A-G completion records in the hope of creating a set of "best practices" they can implement at other campuses.

"When we're focused, we know how to get results and now we need to figure how to bring those results to scale," he said.

The challenge facing LAUSD was showcased in a report compiled by researcher Marisa Saunders from UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access. Using data provided by the district, she found that just 19 percent of the Class of the 2011 graduated with a "C" in the A-G curriculum, the requirement for admission to California's public universities.

Latinos and African-American students had even lower completion rates -- 17 and 14 percent, respectively -- and had a tougher time getting back on track if they faltered during their first years in high school.

The 2011 data used for the study is the most recent available. Since then, the school board has made A-G a requirement for graduation. Students who just completed their freshman year can pass the courses with a "D," while incoming freshmen have to earn a "C" to get credit.

To create a system with the necessary programs to support A-G and the new Common Core curriculum, Deasy said he'll recommend giving principals and school-site councils the authority to decide how to spend the tens of millions of extra dollars expected as the state funnels more money to districts with needy students.

"The maximum resources should go to schools, along with decision-making authority. We need to trust teachers and principals to know what's best for their communities and schools," he said.

"Higher autonomy means higher accountability."

Board member Steve Zimmer, another panelist, took a broader view of A-G, defining it as a civil rights issue that is key to preparing students for a successful life after high school.

To provide a safety net for students, he called for boosting the number of school counselors and social workers, along with school-based health clinics and parent centers to provide "wraparound support" for disadvantaged kids.

"We're at a crossroads of whether this is going to work," Zimmer said. "This has to be reciprocal and collaborative. The entire school community has to come together around our youths and say they believe in their potential, in their dreams, in their skills and their abilities. And this is how we get there together."


2cents smf: Eight years ago, when the A-G Graduation Requirement first passed, the District should’ve pulled together the District insiders and outsiders to begin “studying” these new curriculum plans. And they did!. Folk from LAUSD and from academe and from the community – and the very sponsors of A-G (the selfsame folks who sponsored Thursdays forum) met monthly and began the process – and some progress was made.

But then the meetings became less frequent and eventually stopped happening. -- and the record of the meetings was lost. And nothing happened – nothing being what institutional bureaucracies do best when left alone.. 

The current superintendent became supe two years ago when the implementation deadline was 6 years away – but instead of A-G The ®égime focused on teacher bashing and AGT and testing and Tablets4All. (I remind you that “The ®égime” are the selfsame folks who pushed A-G in the first place: UCLA IDEA/Families in Schools/Alliance for a Better Community/Inner City Struggle. The selfsame conveners of Thursday’s forum.)

Don’t blame us  …we didn’t do it.!”  Except “doing it” was what was required.

Sure – an attempt was made last year to make grad requirements easier (in an adult way) by eliminating Health Ed and electives – making high-school ALL A-thru-G/ALL THE TIME – but that didn’t get any political traction. Because ithese were bad ideas/bad pedagogy/bad for kids.

Now, with the first class that A-G applies to entering high school, a forum is convened. And hands are wrung. And teeth are gnashed. And the hems of garments are rent in photo opsa nd sound bytes.

Now we are waiting for the A-G app on the tablets. Waiting for Superman. …or the tooth fairy.

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