Academics, school culture and parent engagement part of new roadmap for success
By Barbara Jones, LAUSD Office of Communication in LAUSD Daily | http://lausddaily.net/
October 17, 2015 :: As the District pushes forward with the goal of preparing every student for college and the workforce, a new task force has unveiled an ambitious plan providing a roadmap of strategies and benchmarks that will be used to guide every student along a pathway to graduation and beyond.
The College and Career Readiness Plan is the result of a year-long collaboration of five dozen top- and mid-level administrators, teachers, parents, students and union leaders, who worked on strategies to get and keep students on track for graduation and to help those who are struggling. They identified five academic goals and eight focus areas that demonstrate how educators can tap into the District’s resources to help students succeed.
“Our students come to us with different skill levels, different resources and experiences,” said Carol Alexander, director of A-G Intervention and Support, who spearheaded the effort. “It’s our job to provide the pathways and supports to ensure that all students reach the summit and graduate college prepared and career ready.”
The plan covers every grade – from pre-kindergarten through high school – with data-driven measures of accountability along the way. In addition to academic success, there are strategies addressing school culture, professional development for faculty and staff and parent and community engagement.
Linda Del Cueto, chief of Professional Learning and Leadership Development, called the plan the “connective tissue” that ties together all of the District’s efforts to put a high school diploma in the hand of every student.
It starts in the earliest grades, ensuring that students are learning California’s new curriculum for math, English-language arts and science, and that English-learners are getting help in becoming proficient. There’s also an emphasis on high school students completing the so-called A-G – a slate of rigorous college-prep classes that are a graduation requirement for the District.
Because time is short for students in the Classes of 2016 and 2017 who need to make up core classes, the District has created new opportunities. The Adult Education Division, for instance, is offering before- and after-school classes at 14 high school campuses. Another unique program known as PASS allows students – working at their own pace – to receive course credit by demonstrating mastery of skills they previously failed.
Officials are quick to point out that a key to the plan it the ability to personalize it. The six local districts – each with its own superintendent and support staff – have the autonomy and authority to decide how they are going to adapt the plan to meet the needs of their schools and students. Districtwide, one in four students is an English-learner, and more than 20 percent of those kids have not been able to master the language after five years. In addition, more than 75 percent qualify for free or discounted school lunches and nearly 13 percent are disabled.
Dr. Frances Gipson, local superintendent of Local District East, told a recent meeting of the school board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee that her team had reviewed the transcript of every high school student over the summer and crafted a plan for A-G achievement. Administrators treated each student as if they were their own.
“We know that while LAUSD is big,” Gipson said, “it can be small in the way we personalize instruction for our students.”
Scott Folsom, a parent representative on the Curriculum Committee, expressed appreciation for the task force’s work, but said he didn’t want data-driven strategies to overshadow the personal interaction involved in teaching and learning.
“We’re not talking about little data points and cells in a data sheet. We’re talking about children – 700,000 of them,” he said. “I know this is a huge challenge. But we’ve begun to do a really good job, and I expect all of us to continue to do that job.”
Dr. George J. McKenna III, a veteran educator and school board member who sits on the Curriculum Committee, said he was impressed with the plan and was confident that the “experience and passion and compassion” of District leaders would motivate them to support their students.
“You are putting together something that will change what we are doing in this District,” he said. “Everything else that we do is secondary to this.”
The District's roadmap to preparing students for colleges and careers
Read the College and Career Readiness Plan, which has been presented to the Board of Education. Please see the executive summary and the full report below.