Tuesday, April 08, 2008



from staff reports | The Daily Breeze

04/08/2008 - So much of the news about student academic performance within the Los Angeles Unified School District is disappointing these days. But last week Los Angeles' eighth-graders earned some well-deserved praise.

Against the tough odds of being part of a struggling school district, eighth-grade students have managed to improve their writing skills "significantly" over the past five years, according to a new study. That's quite an achievement - made all the sweeter as these scores have outpaced even California and national average improvements.

That's not to say middle schools are doing everything right. The report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that the L.A. district's writing scores were at the low end when compared with other urban areas in the nation. Still, the improvement between the years 2002 and 2007 raises hope that students in the region are making strides at catching up to their peers nationwide.

LAUSD eighth-graders' scores on writing assessments went from 128 in 2002 to 137 in 2007. That's double the progress statewide and four times the gains in the nation. The progress cut across racial lines and income disparities.

It's also interesting to note that the traditional gap between males and females in the testing was much narrower in Los Angeles compared with other urban areas. Within LAUSD, girls' scores were on average 16 points higher than boys' results, but in other districts that gap is as high as 21 points.

Over the same time period, the percentage of L.A. eighth-graders who were writing at a "below basic" level decreased from 36percent to 23 percent.

This is an encouraging sign for middle-school students. Writing is, after all, a fundamental skill that's essential for most higher-wage jobs. It's also a vital form of self-expression. Still, no one should be fooled into thinking this means the LAUSD is in the clear. The lower you start, the more room you have for improvement.

Indeed, LAUSD schools collectively have test scores below the national average. The real measure of success will come when all grades are improving in all subjects.


Eighth-grade wonders - The Daily Breeze

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