South LA schools follow state-wide graduation trends

Crenshaw HS

Crenshaw High School

Nearly a dozen South L.A. high schools have followed a positive statewide trend of rising graduation rates while simultaneously lowering the percentage of dropouts, according to data from the California Department of Education.

Schools with the highest graduation rates for the 2013-14 school year include Thirty-Second Street USC Performing Arts with a 100 percent graduation rate; Foshay Learning Center and Middle College High, each with 99 percent; King/Drew Medical Magnet with 96 percent and the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies with 95 percent.

Of the South L.A. high schools, even those with the lowest percentage of graduates recorded graduation rates that were only 10 percent below the LAUSD district-wide graduation rate of 70.4 percent, with a majority of them on an upward trend. [Read more…]

State issues list of struggling schools

John Muir Middle School is one of the Los Angeles schools on the California Department of Education’s list of struggling California schools. Asim Bharwani of Annenberg Radio News talked to parents and teachers about how the school can improve.

To get new federal money, some low-achieving schools or their districts would have to make drastic changes. Shirin Parsavand of Annenberg Radio News reports on how this could alter schools in the local area.

One option the schools have is to close their doors and send students to nearby schools. Another is firing all the staff and rehiring no more than half of them. Schools also could become charter schools. At the very least, they would have to replace the principal unless there was a recent leadership change.

Larry Picus, a professor at the USC Rossier School of Education, says schools that are struggling tend to have tremendous staff turnover. The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to fire all of the staff at Fremont High School in South L-A after years of low performance.

Students and teachers at Fremont have protested and Picus says the track record of reconstituting schools is mixed.

Teachers and administrators often complain about the stigma of being labeled low performing. But Picus says being targeted for improvement sometimes works. Sun Valley Middle School in LAUSD was named as one of the worst schools in the state a decade ago. Picus says it brought in a new principal and saw dramatic improvement.

Federal officials have assured the state that schools that replaced their principal in the last two years will not have to do so again, according to Rachel Perry at the California Department of Education.

Still, school officials’ reaction has been mixed. Perry says many are making large budget cuts and do not welcome the news.

Picus says schools need to use proven strategies, such as improved teacher training and time for teachers to collaborate.

To see the schools on the state’s list of “persistently lowest-achieving schools,” visit the California Department of Education website