Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) this week unveiled what it is calling a “report card” that gives the publice a detailed look at the academic situation at a particular campus.
Copies of the report are soon going out in the mail to parents, but can also be accessed online at the Web site www.lausd.net/reportcard.
A detailed examination of the report cards for eight local high schools including Crenshaw, Dorsey, Manual Arts, King Drew Medical Magnet and Middle College, yielded essentially no surprises. With a few exceptions, African-American and Latino youth attending local schools are not faring well.
Among the details available on the report cards are graduation rates, college-going percentages, college readiness and performance on standardized tests.
As previous accountability reports have shown, schools like the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, King Drew, Foshay Learning Center, Middle College High and Community Harvest Charter are doing a considerably better job of educating local minority youngsters.
Foshay, for example, had the second highest percent of high school students graduating in four years–79%. In contrast, Crenshaw graduated only 27% of its pupils in four years.
When it comes to the percentage of 10th graders on track to graduate ready for college and/or a career, the numbers do not look good even at the best local schools. Foshay topped the list at 52% and then the numbers dribbled steadily down to only 11% on track at Dorsey and Crenshaw.
The LAUSD originally developed the report card in collaboration with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools for use at those campuses. But District officials recognized the potential impact of the reports and decided to make them available for the majority of LAUSD schools.
UCLA education specialist John Rogers, co-director of the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA) believes the new report card does offer information not available before.
“It offers some concrete and specific data on the number of students who actually enter a school four years before and how many graduate four years later,” said Rogers, who is also with the UCLA Graduation School of Education and Information Studies.
But does it provide information that will help improve schools in ways we didn’t have before?
“I would say I have to give the report an incomplete grade on that,” added the UCLA researcher.
“For the report to work, you want to have much more information about the condition at the schools and how the conditions compare to other schools. This would allow you to know whether or not a school had what it needed to be successful. And there is very little data on the conditions.”
Rogers said he believes there are two purposes for data: It can be used to immediately make decisions that can render schools more efficient and responsive to the needs of students and parents. Second, it can be used to inform the public, community organizations, individuals and parents and provide enough information that they become dissatisfied enough to make their concerns known to push for change in more fundamental ways.
And it is not the individual parent who can read, interpret such “report cards” and then advocate for change, suggested Rogers. Instead it must be the collective which advocates for deep systemic change based on the data provided.