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learn / 2021

Ready, Set, Go!: An Equitable Pathway to College and Beyond

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

All young people, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code, have the right to a high-quality K-12 education--one that builds the skills, knowledge and resilience needed to complete a 4-year college and gain greater economic mobility. The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools College Compass program (high school component) prepares students through initiatives including college-readiness tracking and best-fit advising. With a network of highest-need LA Unified schools, we incubate programs intended for the broader impact of LA Unified adoption.


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

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)
  • Other:: Through the Partnership’s Memorandum of Understanding with LA Unified
  • the 19 District schools that make up our network remain simultaneously part of LA Unified
  • remaining in neighborhood public school feeder patterns located in the historically under-funded communities of Watts
  • South LA and Boyle Heights.

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

College completion is the North Star that guides the Partnership’s work because a bachelor’s degree boosts earning power significantly, far beyond what a high school diploma or its equivalent can provide. Our students—and the majority of LA Unified’s 500,000 students—desperately need a pathway toward greater economic mobility: 96% of our students qualify for Free or Reduced-Price Meals, often used as an indicator for families living in poverty; 89% of students identify as Latinx and 9% as African American, and, as such, encounter limitations fueled by systemic racism. Another problem exists beyond challenges within our schools and throughout LA Unified: many students and families believe that college is for other people. Typically, this belief does not stem from an aversion to a university education. Rather, students see college as something unattainable, a default position often influenced by a lack of exposure to educational opportunities, as well as severe financial constraints.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced LA Unified to shift to distance learning. Despite tremendous upheaval, the Partnership was committed to the College Compass program, whose high school component especially helps students stay on track for college and view college as achievable. We continued the initiatives (described below) by modifying them for virtual implementation, an approach we applied to all our work. * Summer Melt Intervention – During the summer before college, many recent high school graduates lack the guidance to navigate tuition and financial aid hurdles, among other enrollment requirements. As a result, a certain percentage of students who had committed to enroll never make it to their college. Through the Summer Melt Initiative, Partnership staff directly assist our at-risk graduates to successfully transition to enrollment. * Best-Fit Advising – We provide our high schools’ college counselors with tailored professional development to support students in applying to best-fit colleges. Such schools have high graduation rates for students of color and meet a high percentage of financial need. * College Access Partners – Our staff works with community partners to offer assistance with college applications, financial aid and enrollment. * On-Track-To-College Tool: We assist our high schools to inform families of their student’s personal progress in meeting objectives related to college completion; students develop goals in response to their progress.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

14,000
Direct impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

The Partnership is uniquely qualified and positioned to drive the changes in our city’s public school system needed to ensure equitable access to a first-rate education for low-income students and students of color. These young people represent the majority of the District’s 500,000-student enrollment. Ultimately, we seek LA Unified’s adoption of our project for broader implementation. The Partnership directly manages 19 LA Unified schools that serve 14,200 students in Watts, South LA and Boyle Heights. We are not a charter organization, nor part of LA Unified although our network schools stay within neighborhood District feeder patterns. The Partnership is an independent nonprofit implementing innovative solutions that significantly improve the outcomes of our network students. Because we design our initiatives and programs to be sustainable at scale, our successes act as powerful proof points for LA Unified—the nation’s second-largest school system—and smaller LA County districts.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Project Outcomes: * By June 2022, the percentage of eligible Partnership seniors accepted to a 4-year college will increase by 2 percentage points from the June 2021 rate as measured by Partnership school records. Our acceptance rate has grown from 32% (2015) to 49% (2020). * The English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency rate across the Partnership’s high schools will reach 60% as measured by the Spring 2022 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments (SBACs). Between 2015 and 2019*, our high school ELA proficiency rate grew by 20 points, from 37% to 57%, surpassing LA Unified’s 2019 rate (52%). * The math proficiency rate across our high schools will reach 25% as measured by the Spring 2022 SBACs. (2019 SBACs: 22%) Across all Partnership schools, ELA proficiency doubled from 19% (2015) to 38% (2019), and math rose from 14% to 25%, both exceeding the growth of LA Unified. *The 2020 SBACs were cancelled statewide; as of 4/2/21, LA Unified is uncertain about conducting the 2021 SBACs.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • College matriculation
  • Student proficiency in English & Language Arts
  • Proficiency in STEM