State schools bad, L.A. worse

first_imgFor every 100 ninth-graders in non-San Fernando Valley schools, 44 had graduated four years later and 24 had passed courses required for admission to CSU and UC schools. In Valley schools, 48 had graduated and 25 had passed those courses. The statewide averages are 66 and 25. In its report, the institute studied the Class of 2006 at every California high school, detailing the rates of completion, enrollment in the state’s four-year colleges and universities and assignment of well-qualified teachers. The study also incorporated results of the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which showed that California’s fourth-graders rank 48th in reading and 46th in math. Meanwhile, eighth-graders ranked 47th in reading and 45th in math. Researchers also included reports on the percentage of 12th-graders enrolling in four-year colleges, which found that the rate of enrollment put California ahead of only Mississippi and Arizona. California’s high school graduation rate of 66percent also is well below the national average, and researchers found an unequal distribution of qualified teachers and classroom sizes – particularly in intensely minority schools. Problems also included secondary schools that are generally larger than in any state except Florida. In California, more than 25 percent of students attend schools acknowledged as overcrowded, said John Rogers, co-director of the UCLA institute. California’s math, science and social studies classrooms have more students, on average, than similar classrooms in any other state, Rogers said. Middle and high school students across the state also have poor access to counselors, Rogers said. In the Los Angeles Unified School District, the problems are magnified. A staggering 62 percent of schools are overcrowded, according to the state Department of Education definition – compared with 16 percent in the state. In addition, 13 percent of the LAUSD’s schools are experiencing severe shortages of qualified teachers, compared with 6percent statewide. At half of the LAUSD’s schools, more than one-fifth of the college prep math classes are taught by teachers without credentials to teach math – compared with a 32 percent statewide average. And at Valley schools – which historically have performed better than the rest of the LAUSD – researchers found students are not performing significantly above the districtwide averages in key areas. The Valley boasts more fully credentialed teachers, teachers with appropriate credentials in college prep courses and math teachers with appropriate credentials to teach college prep math. But both Valley and non-Valley schools had about 9percent of their Class of 2006 enrolled in Advanced Placement math in the 12th grade – just under the state average of 11 percent. And the LAUSD fell far below the state average of 80 percent of the class of 2006 passing the math section on the California High School Exit Exam by grade 12. About 74 percent in Valley schools passed; 64percent in non-Valley schools. Meanwhile, 77percent of students in Valley schools passed the English portion of the test by grade 12, while just 69percent in non-Valley schools did. Still, both of those are lower than the state average of 82 percent. LAUSD Superintendent David Brewer III said he’s been aggressively lobbying the state for more funds – and more flexibility in how to spend the money. “You not only need more money, but we need some of the restrictions on the money relaxed so we can use it in more innovative ways and tailor it because all schools don’t have the same needs,” he said. In the meantime, the district is pursuing other avenues to reduce class and school sizes through its facilities program and personalizing school environments. The district is also working on strengthening its standards-based curriculum – and particularly targeting its more than 250,000 English-learners – and creating more robust professional development programs. “What we have determined is when you have super-large schools, you lose the personalized learning environment,” Brewer said. “So we’ve implemented a small learning community strategy, particularly at secondary schools.” And officials are working on creating a culture of high expectations, stepping up recruitment of qualified math and science teachers, as well as providing the services to meet the special social needs of their student population. Ultimately, Rogers said, to close the gaps dividing California’s students will require directing more resources and investment to key areas. “The statistics shown in this report suggest that solving educational inequity requires a two-pronged strategy,” he said. “One that improves California’s education infrastructure overall and, at the same time, targets resources and support to students concentrated in the much smaller proportion of middle and high schools that suffer from an even greater lack of essential educational resources.” LAUSD school board member Julie Korenstein said California’s standards are higher than most states’ but there has to be adequate funding to give enough resources to schools, particularly those in high-poverty areas, to be able to meet those standards. “If you don’t have the funding to pull up English-learners, children of poverty and learning-disabled students by the bootstraps, then you can’t do it. You’re hitting your head against the wall,” she said. “A lot of people will say you don’t need the money, but if you want to hire the best teachers and reduce class size, it costs money.” [email protected] 818-713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! California students are among the nation’s worst academic achievers, and those in the Los Angeles Unified School District are faring even worse than the statewide average, according to a UCLA study released Thursday. In one of the broadest looks at California’s education system, the state’s high school students ranked near the bottom nationwide on key markers including achievement, graduation and college-enrollment rates. If current trends continue, every high school in California will fail to achieve proficiency in math by the 2014 goal set by the federal No Child Left Behind law, the report’s researchers found. And while obstacles in California are greatest for African-American and Latino students, the study indicates that the state’s education system has problems that go far beyond a persistent racial gap in achievement. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “This cultural argument suggests that the problem of low test scores resides within the African-American and Latino communities,” said Jeannie Oakes, associate director of UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education & Access. “It fails to account for the fact that California students generally have lower test scores than students across the nation.” State Superintendent of Schools Jack O’Connell’s representatives had not read the report, but he had released a statement on the recent findings on the California High School Exit Exam, which he said underscored “how critically important it is that we mount a statewide effort to close the achievement gap.” O’Connell noted that even though the reporting of dropouts is still imprecise until they implement a statewide student tracking system, the issue remains a serious concern. And the study further affirms that the LAUSD’s graduation rate is even more troubling. last_img read more