The Advancement Project, the Los Angeles-based civil rights and advocacy organization, has come up with what it calls a “student need index” to identify the schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District with the greatest needs.

The organization, partnering with the Community Coalition and InnerCity Struggle, argues that most of the additional funds the district will receive from the state based on its enrollments of low income students, English learners and foster children should be targeted toward 242 schools its index shows have the highest needs.  These schools are heavily concentrated in southern and eastern Los Angeles, as well as in the the Pacoima area in the San Fernando Valley, as this map shows. 

The publication of the index coincided with the release of the draft Local Control and Accountability Plan by Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy on Tuesday.  (Go here for an EdSource report on the release of the draft plan.)

Because it is by far the state’s largest district, with nearly 1,000 schools, the district is being closely watched by policy makers and key education constituencies to see how the state’s new funding formula will be implemented. The district will receive a projected $837 million in additional grants based on the number of low-income students, English learners and foster children enrolled in the district.

“We understand and applaud the governor’s framework (for school financing) to focus on the highest-needs students,” said John Kim, the Advancement Project’s managing co-director.  But he said there are “large swaths of disparities between the highest- and lowest-needs schools.”  The index, he said, offers a way for the district to prioritize how and where it spends state education funds.

The  index is based on a dozen different factors. These include 3rd and 8th grade test scores, high school dropout rates, access to child care, the presence of crime-prevention services, and a number of health factors, such as gun injuries in the neighborhoods where students live, student fitness levels,  and asthma rates.

The coalition of organizations has also drawn up a what it calls an “equity framework” for implementation of the Local Control and Accountability Plan. The detailed six-page document includes recommendations such as having student counselors specifically focused on English learners, along with a wide range of other support services for the hundreds of thousands of children who fall into this category.

It also recommends a panoply of health services, including psychiatric social workers and counselors in schools with the highest number of foster youth, and building new health centers in high-needs schools that lack them.

Kim said that a student needs index would be helpful to all school districts, but that each district would need to build its own based on its own unique characteristics.

Kim wouldn’t say exactly how much of the additional funds he felt should be targeted at the the schools with the highest need. “There will in the end be a balance between district-wide programs and targeted needs,” he said. “It just has to be the right balance.”

DATA INCLUDED IN THE STUDENT NEEDS INDEX

Category Indicator

Year

Geography Source
Academic Achievement Percent of 8th grade students scored basic, below basic, or far below basic in CST ELA exam.

2013

School CDE
Academic Achievement Percent of 3rd grade students scored basic, below basic, or far below basic in CST ELA exam.

2013

School CDE
Academic Achievement Number of high school dropouts

2011-2012

School CDE
Early Childhood Education Number of children without licensed childcare seats per 10,000 children (0-5)

2012

ZIP code Community Care Licensing Division
Foster Care Number of children entering foster care per 10,000 youth

2012

ZIP code Center for Social Services Research
English Learners Number of English Learner students

2012-2013

School CDE
Students in Poverty Unduplicated number of students qualified for FRPM (foster care)

2012-2013

School CDE
Enrollment Number of enrolled students

2012-2013

School CDE
Exposure to violence Number of nonfatal gun injuries per 10,000 persons

2012

ZIP code Office of Statewide Health Planning & Dev.
Resources for Youth Crime Prevention Number of nonprofit organizations related to youth crime prevention per 10,000 youth

2010

ZIP code IRS
Restorative Justice Number of suspensions and expulsions

2010-2011

School CDE
Health Outcomes Asthma Hospitalization Rate per 10,000 children under 18

2010

ZIP code Office of Statewide Health Planning & Dev.
Physical Health and Activity Percentage of students who are in Health Fitness Zone in two or less categories

2012-2013

School LAUSD

Source:  The Advancement Project

Share Article

Comments (2)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * *

Comments Policy

The goal of the comments section on EdSource is to facilitate thoughtful conversation about content published on our website. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Manuel 5 years ago5 years ago

    Oops. I screwed up!

    Sorry, Mr. Freedberg, I wrongly assumed that John wrote the piece!!

    Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

  2. Manuel 5 years ago5 years ago

    John, it is good that you got that table telling the public what was put into the hopper as I could not find a link at their web site for it. Did they tell you how they weighted this data? Or is that proprietary? Also, did they make available to you what the school names are as well as their high-need scores? It is very difficult to do that from their maps. It would be extremely nice … Read More

    John, it is good that you got that table telling the public what was put into the hopper as I could not find a link at their web site for it.

    Did they tell you how they weighted this data? Or is that proprietary? Also, did they make available to you what the school names are as well as their high-need scores? It is very difficult to do that from their maps.

    It would be extremely nice to the data geeks like yours truly for the Advancement Project to publish a more comprehensive report than just those two maps and the wish list they call a “framework.”

    Speaking of lists, the authors seem to be of the opinion that ZIP code is an important factor of a student’s achievement. Why should relieving that burden be placed on LAUSD? Shouldn’t other civic institutions take care of that? (A cynic might say that this flies counter to the claim that ZIP code is not destiny in achievement to the members of this coalition, but now that it is convenient to do so, resources are being demanded on the basis of ZIP code. But I am not that cynical 😉 )