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Driven by a conviction that every child, regardless of zip code, deserves the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has made improving education in Los Angeles a top priority since his first day in office.
In 2006, he pursued and secured mayoral control of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) through Assembly Bill 1381. The bill was ultimately overturned in the courts, but the Mayor remained resolute in demanding a seat at the table and instead forged a dynamic partnership with district and community leaders to drive improvement in Los Angeles schools.
His efforts have focused on securing adequate revenue and resources, ensuring access to high quality school options, empowering educators while establishing clear systems of accountability, developing a scalable turnaround model to dramatically improve low-performing schools, and recruiting and supporting courageous district officials to lead this work. And Los Angeles schools are making progress.
• In spite of grueling budget cuts, the number of LAUSD schools meeting the state standard of 800 on the Academic Performance Index (API) has more than doubled since 2005, while the number of low-scoring schools (650 and below) has dropped from one in three to one in ten.
• More than 160 LAUSD schools have been transformed through aggressive turnaround strategies, such as Public School Choice, No Child Left Behind restructuring, and the network partner model.
• The number of charter schools in Los Angeles has tripled—with the number scoring 800 API or above increasing nine-fold.
• Since its 2008 launch, the Mayor’s turnaround model, the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, has raised its overall API score across the 22 schools in its network by 84 points. If the Partnership were its own district, it would have outpaced every district in California in terms of API growth this past school year.
Mayor Villaraigosa created the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools in 2008 with a mission to transform LA’s lowest-performing schools into academic-focused communities and to create a model for improving schools district-wide. A unique collaboration between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Partnership prioritizes high quality, rigorous instruction delivered by supportive teachers and staff in a vibrant, clean, safe environment. Partnership schools have management and budgetary independence, but operate within the existing attendance boundaries and labor agreements.
The Partnership is the largest public school turnaround project in the nation, serving nearly 16,000 students across 22 schools in some of the city’s most impoverished environments. Read more about PartnershipLA here.
This year, the Partnership was the # 1 most improved school system with more than 3,500 students in CA.
Jordan High School, formerly the lowest performing school in LAUSD, had the highest API increase (93 points) of any high school in LAUSD and any comprehensive high school in CA.
Overall, the Partnership's network-wide API score has increased 84 points, graduation rates have increased from 36% to 50% at the Partnership’s original schools, and high school exit exam pass rates for 10th graders have increased from 40% to 57%. Collectively, the City, LAUSD, and the Partnership have brought new resources to the Partnership schools, including by raising over $72 million and partnering with over 85 organizations to support key initiatives.
The Partnership has piloted and exported innovations now used throughout LAUSD, including changes in the way we test gifted children, the use of student data, layoff policies at our most vulnerable schools, and a school report card.
From Parent Centers to Parent-Teacher Meetings, the Partnership has dedicated time and resources to encourage parents to play an active role in their child’s education. The Partnership launched a Parent College—open to all LAUSD parents—to educate parents about their rights and responsibilities in their children’s education. The Partnership also established parent advocacy groups (Family Action Teams) and parent centers on every Partnership campus.
By creating interactive, engaging classroom learning environments, the Partnership has increased its network-wide attendance rate from 91% to 93%. Thanks to dedicated teachers who make learning interesting and dynamic, students are coming to school each day ready to learn and excel.
A safe school environment is a positive learning environment. Working with the City of Los Angeles, the Partnership has invested in making its schools cleaner, smaller and safer. Students wear uniforms, teachers receive training to strengthen the adult-student relationships, and security teams are retrained.
Since 2005, the City has engaged in a major effort in support of schools, including entering joint-use agreements to allow shared use of recreational spaces, constructing $9.3 million in sidewalks around new schools, creating Hire LA’s Youth to ensure student access to employment opportunities, establishing a program that allows schools to use the MTA for field trips free of charge, expanding the after school enrichment program LA’s Best by nearly one third, and partnering with LAUSD on a program to encourage dropouts to return to school.