Los Angeles Unified School District has some work ahead of it to meet its deadline for all students to pass college-preparatory classes in order to graduate.

Only about a quarter of students who graduated in the class of 2011 had completed what’s known as the A-G subjects, according to a new study by the Strategic Data Project of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.


Percentage of graduates in Los Angeles Unified School District's Class of 2011who also completed A-G requirements.  Source: Strategic Data Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education. (Click to enlarge).

Percentage of graduates in Los Angeles Unified School District’s Class of 2011 who also completed A-G requirements. Source: Strategic Data Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education. (Click to enlarge).

A-G courses are a sequence of math, English, science, history, language and visual or performing arts classes that are required for admission to the University of California and California State University.

LA Unified’s requirement that all students pass A-G courses in order to graduate doesn’t take effect until the class of 2016, and project researcher Jon Fullerton said he expects the rates to increase as that date nears. Still, he said, the results indicate there is “a substantial hill for the district to climb in order to ensure that LAUSD students can meet this more rigorous set of requirements.”

The analysis also found a huge variation among schools in how successful they were in helping students who were at risk for not graduating at the end of ninth grade and putting them on track to graduate on time.  The success rates ranged from 9 percent to 58 percent, with some schools serving significant numbers of low-income and under-served students doing as well or better than schools in wealthier neighborhoods.

Researcher Julia Bloom-Weltman said the hope is that LA Unified will look at the most successful schools to find out what they’re doing and whether it can be replicated in order to “focus the district’s attention on average students while there’s still time to intervene and improve their chances of timely high school graduation.”

District Superintendent John Deasy agreed. “The district’s most important goal is to have students graduate from LAUSD college ready and prepared for careers,” said Deasy in a statement.  “The findings of this study help us to pinpoint best practices and identify areas of improvement to achieve our ambitious goal.”

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