Education / 2013
Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood: Transforming Public Education
Promise Neighborhoods is President Obama’s signature education and poverty initiative to transform schools and communities into vibrant centers of excellence and opportunity. Based on the Harlem Children’s Zone model, the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood (LAPN) led by the Youth Policy Institute (YPI) offers a blueprint for success in Los Angeles in 2050. YPI was awarded a $30 million Promise Neighborhood implementation grant in December 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education, one of only seven grants awarded nationwide. Los Angeles is the largest city in the US to be recognized with a Promise Neighborhood award. At the heart of the LAPN will be a cradle-to-career continuum of services in the communities of Hollywood and Pacoima. School transformation will be at the core of community transformation. The LAPN will be a zone of choice for families, with an array of high-quality traditional, charter, pilot, and partnership schools. The LAPN goal is to have young children entering school ready to learn, students achieving at high levels, and youth graduating from high school prepared for college and careers. Families will enjoy safe, connected neighborhoods with economic opportunities and clear pathways to success. How do we get there? By working together (LAPN has over 60 public and private partners) to break down silos and eliminate waste while getting the most from limited resources. The heart of LAPN is an innovative public-private partnership that blends diverse funding streams around a core set of outcomes and objectives that improve education while fighting poverty. LAPN is transforming 19 neighborhood schools in Hollywood and Pacoima into full-service community schools while opening six Promise Neighborhood Centers and dozens of satellite centers to support families. This is the educational model for Los Angeles in 2050. YPI has worked for over a decade building this continuum of cradle-through-college-and-career programs that link together to ensure that children and families access needed support. These efforts have been jumpstarted by the Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant awarded in 2012. YPI is ready to expand this continuum, which includes services like afterschool tutoring, early education programs, health and nutrition programs, college and career readiness workshops, job training, and public computer centers with access to broadband technology. LAPN serves Pacoima and Hollywood distressed neighborhoods with low performing schools, high rates of poverty, and low rates of educational attainment. Only 36% of LAPN students are at or above grade level in English Language Arts and 34% in math compared to 48% and 46% of LAUSD students. The LAPN graduation rate is 54% - much lower than the LAUSD graduation rate of 64%. YPI and LAPN commit to making major improvements on all five My LA2050 Education metrics, because school transformation and wraparound support that move the needle on all metrics is the only way LA can keep its promise to students for a high quality public education. LAPN transforms schools with parents, principals, and teachers through teacher professional development for effective and data-driven teaching and the use of Academic Coaches and Tutors at each school. YPI's Efforts-to-Outcomes longitudinal data system tracks student achievement and needs to evaluate best methods to help them learn. An Early Warning System identifies at-risk students based on grades, attendance, and other indicators associated with dropping out, and provide academic interventions to help students succeed. All 19 LAPN schools (both LAUSD and charter schools) become Full-Service Community Schools that offer youth and families wraparound services such as nutrition and wellness programs, ESL and GED classes, academic tutoring and enrichment, gang and drug prevention, digital literacy, college and career preparation, financial literacy, and referrals for other services. YPI has built a unique public-private partnership with the County and City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Unified School District, LA Area Chamber of Commerce, and community-based organizations that provides academic support, mentoring, digital literacy, college and career readiness programs, health and mental health services, wellness and physical activity, case management, financial literacy, among other programs. LAPN blends multiple funding streams in support of common objectives articulated in a shared Memorandum of Understanding. What does this mean? LAPN partners have committed to integrate services into the cradle-through-college-and-career continuum to achieve shared goals. By blending funding in this way, LAPN uses resources more efficiently, while simultaneously increasing the impact of each individual service. Partners also commit to sharing data in order to evaluate program impact. A new way to work together to help youth and families succeed. That’s the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
YPI has been a leader in education and community empowerment since 1983. YPI created the first national anti-poverty program based on a community action approach, in which local organizations could operate federally funded program with community input. YPI continues that work in Los Angeles and now serves over 100,000 Angelenos each year at 125 sites throughout the city with education, technology, and training programs. YPI is a recipient of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s Excellence in Education Award, and has also been recognized by Cisco’s Growing with Technology Award, as a National Council of La Raza Affiliate of the Year. YPI has been honored as an international ComputerWorld Honors Laureate for our 80 Public Computer Centers serving families with broadband services and access throughout the city. YPI’s Hollywood FamilySource Center received a 2012 California Award for Performance Excellence by the California Council for Excellence.
While we are proud of these achievements, YPI is most proud of the direct impact our agency has in the lives of low-income youth and adults in Los Angeles. Our staff of over 800, many of whom come from the communities we serve, are dedicated to doing whatever is needed to ensure youth have the resources and skills to graduate college and career ready. YPI’s recent accomplishments include opening the San Fernando Institute of Applied Media (SFiAM) in 2010 on the campus of San Fernando Middle School, a persistently lowest-achieving school. SFiAM increased its API score from 629 to 704 (+75 points) in two years. Notably, SFiAM has surpassed the achievement of San Fernando Middle School in only two years of operation, thanks to the hard work and dedication of teachers, the principal, other school staff, and the programs YPI provides on campus, including an afterschool program, AmeriCorps tutoring, parent education workshops, an iMac computer lab, and a School2Home program that provides all students with iPads. YPI’s LA CollegeReady program trained 129 College Ambassadors who assisted 2,115 high school students and 900 parents prepare for college, including helping with applications, financial aid, and learning more about college options.
Beyond the numbers, YPI staff makes other differences. In 2011, “Maria” and her son were referred to YPI by Maria’s job training program. Maria was keeping her son home from middle school because he was being recruited by an area gang. YPI staff immediately intervened by connecting Maria and her son with the on-site LAUSD counselor, who enrolled Maria’s son in a new school that same day. Last year “Maria” and her daughter participated in YPI’s Just Me and My Parent early childhood education classes. When Maria’s daughter began preschool this past fall, her teacher was impressed by her fine motor skill development and ability to adapt to preschool. Maria expressed how grateful she was for YPI’s early education program and how it has helped her and her daughter tremendously.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
The LA Promise Neighborhood partnership is a unique collaborative of over 60 public, private, and philanthropic organizations that include the County and City of LA, LA Unified School District, First 5 LA, LA Area Chamber of Commerce, and the United Way of Greater LA. In addition, dozens of local neighborhood-based nonprofits are partners, including CA Emerging Technology Fund, Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando Valley, Hollywood Wilshire YMCA, the Actors’ Gang, El Nido Family Centers, Harmony Project, Hollygrove, LA Universal Preschool, Northeast Valley Health Corp., Saban Free Clinic, Thai Community Development Center, Armenian National Committee of America - Western Region, FAME Assistance Corp., and Public Council, and others.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
YPI will evaluate the success of the Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood by tracking progress toward achieving performance outcomes for each metric (described in the previous section). Success comes from the improvement of schools in the neighborhood and the continued achievement of LAPN families, which provide the framework of success required to expand this model across Los Angeles by 2050.
LAPN uses the Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) longitudinal data management system customized to track all outcome measures in the LAPN. This powerful system not only evaluates programs, it can also be used to design and implement effective interventions and plan for future programs (through the Early Warning System discussed above). ETO is versatile and configured to support specific program needs for data entry, data management and reporting. Each LAPN program has its own program-specific, site-level data system. These collect data and feed into a centralized location, known as the Enterprise. Within the Enterprise level, YPI’s Director of Research and Evaluation can analyze data for the entire agency, and for LAPN. Using ETO, LAPN staff measures the impact of a single service on an individual (e.g. whether a student’s grades increase after a semester of tutoring). They measure collective impact of multiple services on an individual (e.g. whether a student’s grades increase after a semester of tutoring and participation in an afterschool program). They measure family-level impact of services (e.g. impact of student receiving tutoring and parent receiving job training), as well as aggregate impact by site-level, neighborhood-level, or by demographics (e.g. improvement in a school’s API score, impact of all services on overall neighborhood poverty, or impact on a specific group, such as Latino male youth ages 14-21).
Data sharing among public and private agencies is rare and difficult to achieve, due to privacy concerns, inability to properly collect and analyze performance data, and indifference to collaboration. Despite these barriers, YPI and the LAPN have made significant strides in this area. The City of LA has identified YPI as a potential pilot grantee to use ETO at YPI’s City-funded Hollywood FamilySource Center and lead the City in a possible conversion of City data systems to ETO. YPI was selected by Social Solutions as a Certified Implementation Partner to provide technical assistance and expertise on the use of ETO. LAUSD has agreed to import student and school-level data into ETO, which is a major milestone for the project.
My LA2050 grant funds will strengthen LAPN’s evaluation plan by hiring a Cross Sector Coordinator to work with partners to develop detailed data sharing agreements and assist with the logistics of setting up partners’ ETO Data Portals, which link directly to YPI’s centralized Enterprise data system to aggregate results. My LA2050 will also help with the costs of ETO licenses for YPI and partners.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
LAPN will transform low-performing schools into high achieving learning centers. The LAPN school transformation model can be replicated throughout the City so that all children have access to an excellent education that prepares them for college and careers. YPI has developed performance measures to track progress toward achieving goals that demonstrate specific and quantifiable ways that LAPN will benefit Los Angeles and make significant progress on the Education metrics within five years.
Metric: Test Scores
- Increase percentage of students who achieve score at or above grade level on the CA Standards Test in math from 34% to 67% and English Language Arts from 36% to 69%.
- API scores will increase to exceed the CA goal of 800 within five years.
- English Language Learners who score proficient on the CELDT test will increase by 8 percentage points each year.
- Special education students who score at or above grade level in math and ELA will increase by 7 percentage points each year.
Metric: High School Completion & Drop Rates
- Increase high school graduation rates from 54% to 87%.
- Increase attendance rates by 0.3-0.5 percentage points each year; decrease truancy rates by 4-5 percentage points each year.
- Increase high school students passing the CA High School Exit Exam by 2 percentage points each year.
- Re-enroll 100 out-of-school youth back in high schools each year, and increase percent of out-of-school youth who obtain a diploma or certificate from 55% to 75%.
Metric: College-Going Rates
- Increase percentage of students passing A-G courses with a “C” or better from 45% to 85%.
- Increase percentage of LAPN high school students who graduate with a regular high school diploma and obtain a postsecondary degree, vocational certificate, or other certification/credential from 40% to 72%.
- Increase percentage of parents who complete college workshops and demonstrate knowledge of how to support children through the college process to 98% by year 5.
- Increase percentage of middle school students with a college-advancement action plan by the end of 8th grade from 65% to 90%.
Metric: Preschool Participation
- Increase percentage of children from birth to kindergarten entry who participate in Center-based or formal home-based early learning programs from 48% to 73%.
- Increase percentage of three year olds who demonstrate age-appropriate functioning across multiple domains from 57% to 77% and children in kindergarten from 41% to 65%.
Metric: Afterschool & Summer School Enrichment
- Increase percentage of students in the Promise Neighborhood who participate in high quality learning activities during out of school hours from 47% to 72%.
When LAPN achieves these outcomes, Los Angeles will benefit from a well-educated workforce prepared for high wage jobs. This results in higher tax revenues and a stronger economy, with less need for expenditures on social assistance.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
Success in 2050 is a Los Angeles where all children start life with access to high quality health and early education services so they enter kindergarten ready to learn. It’s a Los Angeles where all K-12 students achieve at or above grade level. It’s a Los Angeles where 100% of students graduate from high school and enter the college or career of their choosing. It’s a Los Angeles where all youth can participate in afterschool and summer enrichment programs to develop their creative and extracurricular interests. It’s a Los Angeles that embraces the LAPN educational model to achieve these goals.
We believe this model is the best way to make real progress on the Education metrics to achieve success. Innovative features like partnerships that blend funding to achieve common outcomes will make significantly more progress than agencies working in silos and duplicating efforts. Forward-looking commitments to comprehensive data management and evaluation will keep the initiative on track to achieve goals and outcomes.
The Los Angeles Promise Neighborhood has the potential to transform not only Los Angeles, but communities throughout the state and country by proving the effectiveness of place-based strategies that saturate communities in need with a cradle-through-college-and-career continuum to eradicate poverty and create vibrant communities of opportunity. Groundbreaking LAPN partnerships with the City and County of LA and Los Angeles Unified School District seamlessly link public and private services in the LAPN to provide targeted services geared to the needs of youth and families in specific neighborhoods.
We know that this community can and will rise to the occasion, joining forces to demonstrate to a national audience that Los Angeles is ready to fully engage and lead signature national efforts like Promise Neighborhoods. We need your help to build on this momentum so that Maria and her son, and all of us who call Los Angeles home, can look toward a brighter future. We stand ready to rally the leadership of our region and help LAPN define new and permanent pathways to success for all in Los Angeles by 2050.