Are LAUSD grads leaving high schools ready for college? Board could authorize deeper study

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There are many ways to measure how prepared the Los Angeles Unified School District's graduates are for what comes after high school — college or a career.

"The challenge," says L.A. Unified School Board member Kelly Gonez, "is that these data do not exist all in one place."

On Tuesday, the school board might change that. They plan to take up Gonez's resolution, co-sponsored by board members George McKenna and Richard Vladovic, which asks district staff to deliver a broad-ranging report on the district's college readiness data by January.

The report would synthesize some of the more easily-accessible data — like district high schoolers' scores on the SAT and AP exams — with more obscure measures, like how many L.A. Unified gradates need remediation once they get to college and how many persist from freshman to sophomore year.

The vote Tuesday comes two weeks after the release of a study in which researchers documented that most LAUSD graduates — more than two-thirds in 2008, 2013 and 2014 — made it to college. But the researchers from the Los Angeles Educational Research Institute also found only a quarter of the district's Class of 2008 graduates went on to actually earn a degree.

“I think it’s further motivation about why it’s such an urgent issue,” said Gonez, who added that she believed the district has made great strides since 2008.

Gonez's resolution calls for a trend analysis that covers a broader set of measures: how many graduates completed college applications, how many enrolled in higher education programs, how many transferred from two-year to four-year colleges and how many completed career-focused apprenticeships or technical education programs.

In the same report, Gonez's resolution calls for a checkup on the district's "indicators of college readiness," including the number of preschoolers meeting the state's early literacy benchmarks, as well as student GPA, standardized test scores and rates of completion of college-level courses while still in high school.

"What you measure is what you think is important," Gonez said. "I think it’s also about the district making a statement that, for us, the promise of 100 percent graduation is not complete unless it’s 100 percent graduation [ready for] college and career. We can’t get a full sense of that unless we look at how well our students are actually doing once they leave our doors."

Gonez's report also calls for a report on the feasibility of offering the PSAT and SAT college prep exams at no cost to students.

Read the resolution's full text here.

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