learn / 2015

Help At-Risk Students in South L.A. Get on Track to Graduate

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by City Year Los Angeles

The high school dropout crisis is enormous in scope, yet highly concentrated in just a few neighborhoods, like South L.A. City Year LA and the Partnership are expanding our collaboration into Carver Middle School to ensure the most at-risk students reach their full potential. City Year AmeriCorps members will target 7th and 8th grade students who demonstrate risk factors for dropping out, providing more capacity to Partnership staff and school leadership to implement their vision at the school.

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Carver Middle School (South Los Angeles)

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • District-wide graduation rates
  • HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math
  • Academic Performance Index* scores
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

As the graduation rate in the United States continues to rise—up to 81.4% for the class of 2013—progress in California schools and Los Angeles specifically, is crucial to reaching the national goal of a 90% graduation rate by 2020. The good news is that more students in Los Angeles are graduating every year. The Los Angeles Unified School District class of 2014 saw 70% of students graduate in four years, a tremendous increase from the 61% graduation rate for the class of 2011. However, there is still much work to be done, as 50% of dropouts in Los Angeles come from just 22% of high schools. Progress in these schools—where City Year and the Partnership strategically serve—will be a lynchpin for our city, state, and country’s success. We are turning around some of our city’s historically most-challenging campuses, where students struggle with academic achievement and the ongoing ramifications of generational poverty and violence. Both organizations are dedicated to making schools safe havens where students can learn and thrive. Combining our enhanced services – parent centers, community health facilities, etc., with additional adults serving as tutors, mentors, and role models – students will have a safety net to help them succeed. Our collective efforts promote school-wide cultural norms and standards related to student responsibility, efficacy and interactions between peers, students and adults. When we can change school climates—encouraging trust, respect and support—the impact is profound. Students are interacting positively with adults, and feel a sense of pride and ownership in their school. School pride makes students more likely to work hard in the classroom, reach out to adults for extra support, and become more engaged in activities before, during, and after school, treating their school like the valuable community resource it should be.

This transformation will not just positively impact today’s students, but can ripple out to future generations. If students feel more connected to school and have greater success, they are more likely to graduate. If they graduate from high school, they will likely earn at least $1M more in their lifetime than if they drop out. If they drop out, they are three times more likely to be unemployed and eight times more likely to go to jail. This will not only impact their lives, but their children and grandchildren. By breaking the cycle now, we can set up future generations for continued and further success.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

City Year LA focuses its measurement on the subset of students it serves, while the Partnership tracks data for all students in its network, looking at individual, grade-level and overall gains. Our outcomes are linked – if the lowest-performing population shows increases, it will elevate the entire school’s performance and improve the Partnership network results.

The following are some of City Year LA’s and the Partnership’s proposed outcomes:

• Provide individualized interventions to 150 students and extended learning time through City Year after-school programs to 100 students • Move 50% of students from an English language arts/math course grade of “D” or lower to a “C” or higher, or maintain/improve an existing “C” • Increase by 3 percentage points the number of students in 7th and 8th grade who meet or exceed the standards in English language arts and math • Elicit strong teacher feedback in which at least 85% of teachers report positive experiences with City Year.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach