DROPOUT CRISIS IN L.A. SITUATION MUCH WORSE THAN REPORTED, HARVARD STUDY SHOWS.
Byline: Jennifer Radcliffe Staff Writer
More than half of Los Angeles Unified School District The Los Angeles Unified School District (the "LAUSD") is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in California and the second-largest in the United States. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population. students failed to finish high school in a recent four-year period - nearly double the dropout (1) On magnetic media, a bit that has lost its strength due to a surface defect or recording malfunction. If the bit is in an audio or video file, it might be detected by the error correction circuitry and either corrected or not, but if not, it is often not noticed by the human rate reported to the state, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a Harvard University Harvard University, mainly at Cambridge, Mass., including Harvard College, the oldest American college. Harvard College
Harvard College, originally for men, was founded in 1636 with a grant from the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Civil Rights Project study released Wednesday.
A statewide reporting discrepancy, which is more pronounced in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , raises red flags that California's current dropout-accounting formula is masking a crisis in public schools, particularly for Latino and African-American students, educators said.
``We have incredibly lax accountability in California, and it borders on negligence,'' said Daniel Losen, a policy research associate with The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. ``They're doing a miserable job in addressing their graduation-rate crisis.''
The state has reported a graduation rate of 87 percent, but the Harvard researchers found an overall graduation rate of 71 percent for 2002. Graduation rates for non-Asian minority students were significantly lower, with a 57 percent rate for blacks, 60 percent for Latinos and 52 percent for American Indians American Indians: see Americas, antiquity and prehistory of the; Natives, Middle American; Natives, North American; Natives, South American. . For minority males, the figures were even worse: 50 percent for blacks, 54 percent for Latinos and 46 percent for American Indians.
In the LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA) , just 39 percent of Latino students and 47 percent of African-American students graduate in four years.
Researchers said the new data should lead to improvements in dropout-rate calculation methods and more accountability for the high number of dropouts.
LAUSD board President Jose Huizar agreed, saying he would ask for a specific dropout-prevention plan to be developed in the next 90 days.
``There's no doubt that the current dropout rates are unacceptable,'' he said.
But, he added: ``It's curable cur·a·ble
Capable of being cured or healed. . There's no doubt it's preventable. It results from our failure to meet students' need.''
The figures were released ahead of a conference on the theme ``Dropouts in California: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis.'' The conference, scheduled for today at California State University, Los Angeles California State University, Los Angeles (also known as Cal State L.A., CSULA, or "'CSLA"') is a public university, part of the California State University system. , is expected to draw about 400 education researchers, teachers and policy- makers.
The LAUSD loses the bulk of its students between their freshman and sophomore years - including 17,000 Latino students who never return for 10th grade.
Because nearly 75 percent of the district's 746,000 students are Latino, the district must tackle this problem, said Julie Mendoza, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles UCLA comprises the College of Letters and Science (the primary undergraduate college), seven professional schools, and five professional Health Science schools. Since 2001, UCLA has enrolled over 33,000 total students, and that number is steadily rising. , who is studying the LAUSD's dropout rates.
``The bottom line, I think, is that we can do better,'' she said. ``This isn't just about numbers and calculations and smoke and mirrors. This is about human lives.''
To keep kids in school, district officials must have enough information to be able to target actual problems with LAUSD resources. They must also bring in outside partners, such as nonprofit groups and universities.
``Everybody wants to wash their hands of the problem,'' Mendoza said. ``Bottom line is, it's everybody's problem, and everybody needs to find the solution.''
It will take a massive overhaul to fix the problem, from reaching out to elementary school elementary school: see school. students to making schools smaller, educators said.
District officials will have to make sure that poor and minority students, many of whom are already behind when they start kindergarten, are given the extra resources they need, Mendoza said. Other students drop out because they need to work, are pregnant or lose interest.
George Martinez, who dropped out of Canoga Park High School Canoga Park High School is a public school located in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California, USA, within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
It is located right across the street from the Topanga Plaza shopping center. in his senior year in 2003, said he gave up because he was more than 90 credits behind.
``The schools weren't hard enough on me. All they would do is suspend you for not attending. I didn't care if they suspended me: Then I don't have to go to school,'' said the 19-year-old Canoga Park resident.
Distracted by ditch parties and girls, he said, he rarely went to classes, and when he did it was often to socialize so·cial·ize
v. so·cial·ized, so·cial·iz·ing, so·cial·iz·es
1. To place under government or group ownership or control.
2. To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable. .
``It just didn't seem interesting. I always thought if you know what you are going to be, you should pay attention to that.''
Martinez now works with his father fixing water lines and attends Canoga Park Adult School. He expects to get his general educational development or GED GED
1. general equivalency diploma
2. general educational development
GED (US) n abbr (Scol) (= general educational development) → diploma this spring.
LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer Roy R. Romer (born October 31, 1928 in Garden City, Kansas, United States) was the 39th governor of Colorado and served as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2001 to 2006. said he understands the urgency about the dropout situation.
``Eighty percent of my time is spent trying to reduce the dropout rate,'' he said. ``I'm very concerned about that.''
Romer said he plans to bring in nonprofit groups, such as First Things First, to try to help personalize the education experience.
He said the $14 billion construction program and effort to move toward small learning communities should also help keep students in school.
Romer and others said they're grateful to have accurate numbers detailing the problem. While cumbersome, the district must use accurate formulas, analysts said.
``It matters. If you don't have a clear understanding of the nature of the problem, you can't begin to understand how to fix it,'' Mendoza said.
Dropout calculations have been the subject of national debate over the past decade, as statistics studies have become more sophisticated.
Most schools have moved away from a one-year snapshot, which was usually a flattering, single-digit number, to a four-year rate that compares the number of students who enter their freshman year with the number of students who receive diplomas four years later.
These rates can vary dramatically, depending on which students are counted as dropouts. California, for example, doesn't count students in prison as dropouts. Students working toward their GED diplomas, however, are considered dropouts.
Esther Wong, LAUSD assistant superintendent, said she thinks the state's calculation system is solid. District employees work very hard to get current information on students, she said.
But the ideal system, which California is moving toward, would allow the state to track students with unique identification numbers, she said.
``It's very frustrating because the general public gets very confused, and it's very hard to explain,'' Wong said.
To comply with requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), commonly known as NCLB (IPA: /ˈnɪkəlbiː/), is a United States federal law that was passed in the House of Representatives on May 23, 2001 , districts in California There are several different types of districts in California. The U.S. state of California is geographically divided into various districts for political and administrative purposes. are asked to have an 82.5 percent graduation rate. If they haven't reached that, they are expected to improve their current rate by at least one-tenth of 1 percent.
Even so, the LAUSD failed to comply this year because the districtwide graduation rate fell to 67.7 percent from 72 percent.
If it just makes minimum gains, ``It will take Los Angeles 367 years to meet the state goal,'' Losen said.
Staff Writer Rachel Uranga and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jennifer Radcliffe, (818) 713-3722