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LAUSD Officials Say Structural Changes Will “Broaden and Deepen” Progress at Locke Family of Schools
Los Angeles – Moving proactively to address the growing needs of its students, Green Dot Public Schools today announced the next step in the evolution of the management structure at Locke High School. The changes, which include the formation of a unified ninth-grade academy and the creation of three distinctive tenth through twelfth-grade academies under a unified charter, will build upon past improvements the high school has made in academic achievement.
Locke High School has made substantial gains since Green Dot took over its management in 2008. The high school graduation rate has doubled, and the number of graduates who are CSU and UC eligible has tripled. API scores are up 85 points, and first-time pass rates for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) are 98% higher for math and 70% higher for English. An independent study by UCLA found that students attending the Green Dot-operated Locke Family of Schools are nearly four times more likely to graduate and be ready for college than students at neighboring schools.
However, these gains have not been uniform across the entire campus and the challenges are increasing. The percentage of entering ninth-graders who are Below Basic or Far Below Basic in Math has increased from 67% to 82% in just three years. Also, the percentage of entering ninth-graders that need special education services has been steadily on the rise for the past four years. In addition, ninth-grade enrollment has been declining, mirroring changes throughout the Watts neighborhood. Therefore, Green Dot is continuing to make changes to meet the unique needs of ninth graders while increasing academic performance.
“We are proud of the advances Locke has made,” said Marco Petruzzi, Green Dot’s CEO, “but we are always looking for ways to improve. The changes we will be making in preparation for the new school year will move us closer to our goal of providing every student at Locke with a world class education.”
Green Dot announced the following adjustments that will take effect in the 2013-14 academic year as it seeks charter renewal in February:
Bring together all incoming freshmen into a single ninth- grade academy, which will allow for differentiated instruction and more intensive academic intervention.
Create three new, distinct 10th-12th grade academies, thereby uniting Locke 1, 2, 3, and Locke Tech on a single campus under a single charter.
Begin a Green Dot Middle School. This will allow Green Dot to reach students earlier, giving them a better preparation for the crucial high school years.
Despite these changes, all current Locke students will continue to attend the school, and most will continue in the same configuration as they do now.
“The turnaround that has begun at Locke under Green Dot has been impressive,” said LAUSD Board Member Richard Vladovic. “I have the utmost confidence that their plan for the next phase of the high school will greatly benefit the students of South Los Angeles, ensuring that they all graduate prepared for college and for life.”
“This is another good decision by Green Dot at Locke,” said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. “I applaud Green Dot for the progress we have seen at Locke, and commend them for not being afraid to make the necessary changes to broaden and deepen that improvement.”
“Our focus continues to be on the students at Locke,” said Dr. Cristina de Jesus, Green Dot’s President and Chief Academic Officer. “We believe these changes will allow us to better serve them. We are working to minimize the disruption to students, as we strive to better oversee the school as a whole. The new structure will bring greater unity to the campus, while still maintaining the personalized learning environment that has proven successful.”
Locke is just one of many local school LAUSD is working to improve. Recently, a vote was unanimously passed by LAUSD to implement magnet programs at Crenshaw High School. Deasy has stated that the high school was underperforming and in need of change. A majority of students, faculty and the community were deeply opposed to the superintendent’s proposal and led a protest last Tuesday at an LAUSD board meeting.
The LAUSD Board of Education is scheduled to vote on these changes, as well as Locke’s charter renewal, at its February 12th Board Meeting.