The Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to share a decade of student data in an effort to figure out the best methods for raising student achievement. The district has entered into an agreement with the independent, nonprofit Los Angeles Education Research Institute (LAERI).
Kyo Yamashiro, LAERI’s executive director, said the first foray into the data will be to examine how eighth grade students do in algebra. She said they’ll break down algebra success rates by school and by subgroups within each school, looking for patterns or programs that helped kids get into algebra and successfully complete it.
“By identifying skills and behaviors that are most related to preparing students for this critical gateway subject, we can target those skills and behaviors for further intervention by teachers and administrators,” said Yamashiro in a written statement. Individual students, however, will not be identifiable.
LAUSD is the second-largest school district in the country, with about 670,000 students and more than 900 schools. The initial work will cost at least $278,000, the amount of funding for the project received from JPMorgan Chase and the California Community Foundation.
The long-term goal, said Yamashiro, would be to link the K12 data with other education sectors to be able to follow children from early childhood education, such as preschool, all the way through college, and try to pinpoint what programs work and what makes them work.
“The Los Angeles Unified School District is committed to using evidence-based strategies to improve student achievement,” said Superintendent John Deasy. “Our partnership with LAERI will provide an important, independent, external perspective that will help our district continually improve our efforts to prepare students for successful futures.”
California already has a statewide student database called the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, or CALPADS, which, when it’s fully functioning, ought to be able to track students from preschool through college and beyond. But it’s not operating at capacity, and wouldn’t be gathering the kind of information that LAERI is collecting, such as unique district assessment data, Yamashiro told EdSource Today.
As the amount of data collected grows and is disaggregated, “Los Angeles children have the educational opportunities they deserve because it will shine a light on what is working and what’s not,” said Carl Cohn, chair of the LAERI board of directors (and a member of the EdSource board of directors). “This historic agreement is an exciting milestone, allowing L.A. to join the ranks of other major cities, like New York and Chicago, that already have the support of district-research partnerships like this.”