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Powerful knowledge

Cynthia E. Griffin- | 3/12/2009, 5 p.m.

Only one of the 14 high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District which have high concentrations of African American students has as many or more fully credentialed teachers than the state average.

About 97 percent of the teachers at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies are fully credentialed compared to 91 percent of teachers in high schools statewide.

The other 13 schools range from a high of 87 percent at Manual Arts down to 65 percent at Jordan. And even the best schools in the community--Foshay Learning Center (83 percent); Hamilton (85 percent); King Drew Medical Magnet (86 percent); and Middle College (79 percent)--trail the state figure.

According to research by Stanford University education expert Linda Darling-Hammond, there is a direct correlation between teacher credentialing and student achievement. Pupils who learn from instructors with credentials, particularly in the subject area being taught, do better.

Unfortunately, researchers have found that urban and inner city schools have high percentages of uncredentialed teachers.

The status of teacher credentialing at your local high school is just one category of data that parents and community residents can access at a Web site (www.EdOpp.org) created by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA).

"Parents have the right to know about the resources, conditions and opportunities to learn in their schools, and how it compares to other schools in their district. We hope that by equipping parents with this data, they can approach principals, administrators and school boards and initiate campaigns to bring equity and equality to their schools," said John Rogers, a UCLA professor and co-director of IDEA.

The data included in the Web sites comes from a series of reports IDEA released late last year.

The California Educational Opportunity Report details in two separate documents the academic condition of African American and Latino students in the state. The report looks at the following areas: Achievement, college preparation, racial disparities, inadequate and unequal learning conditions and opportunities, unequal outcomes and opportunities, and the restricted flow through California's K-12 mathematics pipeline.

From this comprehensive report, IDEA has created the high school databank which, in addition to teacher credential percentages, provides information on passage rates for the high school exit exam; graduation and college-going rates; percentage of English learners and what percentage of the school is eligible for free and reduced price lunches.

In order to help parents and community residents understand how to navigate and use the information on the site to their advance, IDEA is holding a series of training workshops, and the next one will be April 24 in Pasadena.

Additionally, IDEA is open to training individuals who want to teach others to use the data. For information on the training call, Claudia Vizcarra at (310) 825-1530.