Preparing LAUSD High School Students for the 21st Century Economy

Education Trust-West
June 2005

This four-page "special report" from Education Trust-West urges the Los Angeles Unified School District to raise its expectations for poor and minority high schoolers and give them access to a challenging curriculum. California has an "A-G curriculum," in which students take "intermediate algebra, four years of English, and at least two lab sciences - not a huge stretch in our minds, but a rigorous sequence of courses most LAUSD high school students do not take." Though these traditionally "college-prep" courses are needed to enter today's workforce, they are far more prevalent in affluent schools than in poor ones. The report lays to rest several excuses for allowing so many students to slide by with easier courses. In L.A., most schools would need to add only one, two or perhaps no new teachers in order to offer these courses to all students. In total, only 104 new teachers would be needed in a district that currently employs 36,180 of them. Students actually want this rigor - even those identified as "non-college bound." And they point to San Jose, in which A-G is now the default curriculum, for evidence that increasing expectations need not increase drop-outs; on the contrary, graduations rates there improved and achievement gaps narrowed dramatically. In short, "All students need it, they want it, and LAUSD has the teaching force to teach it. . . . The real question is whether we have the will." You can find this online here.

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