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Eagle Rock Schools Improve Academic Performance

Eagle Rock High and Toland Way Elementary still have some catching up to do.

Editor's Note: This article focuses on Eagle Rock's non-charter public schools; Dahlia Heights Elementary School’s API scores were inadvertently not listed in a previous version of the article.

As students return to Eagle Rock’s public schools Wednesday amid soaring, triple-digit temperatures, let’s reflect on another triple-digit number that all state schools are required by law (since 1999) to keep track of—the Academic Performance Index.

The API is a key measure of a school’s yearly performance—and the results for 2011 show that LAUSD schools in Eagle Rock improved their scores, reflecting the overall progress in academic accountability made throughout the LAUSD family.

According to an Aug. 31 report by the California Department of Education, LAUSD schools in 2011 achieved an API score of 728. Although that’s 19 points higher than last year’s score of 709, the number is well below the state average of 778 and the Los Angeles County average of 762.

The state-mandated API target for all public schools is 800. Schools that fall short of it are required to set growth targets until they meet the goal. Schools that meet or exceed an 800 API are expected to not only maintain the score but improve it by raising students’ academic performance.

The good news for Eagle Rock's non-charter public schools is that four of them—Eagle Rock Elementary, Dahlia Heights Elementary, Rockdale Elementary and Delevan Drive Elementary—already scored at or above the statewide performance target of 800 in 2010. The remaining two schools—Eagle Rock High and Toland Way Elementary—exceeded their targets for this year. (See table at the end of this story.)

Across LAUSD, every ethnic group improved its API score—and none more than the so-called “Two or More Races” classification. Although numbering just 560 students (out of a total of 436,479 students included in the 2011 API), this group achieved a growth of 68 points over its 2010 score of 710.

By comparison, the API scores of “Asians” (numbering 15,777 students) increased by 9 points to a total of 893. Scores for “Hispanic or Latino” students (the second-largest group, numbering 326,969) went up by 21 points to a total of 707 (93 points below the statewide API target). And the API scores for “Whites” (40,392 students) improved by 13 points to a total of 862.

The single-largest classification in the API ranking was the “Socioeconomically Disadvantaged” group, defined as consisting of students who don’t have even one parent who has a high school diploma. Numbering 357,369 students, this group’s API scores increased by 20 points over the 2010 base of 691.

Here are the API results for LAUSD schools in Eagle Rock:

School

2011 Growth

2010 Base

2010-11 Growth

Eagle Rock Elementary

852

843

9

Rockdale Elementary

841

813

28

Delevan Drive Elementary

896

882

14

Toland Way Elementary

787

764

23

Dahlia Heights Elementary

849

845

4

Eagle Rock High

749

740

9

Martha Infante September 08, 2011 at 05:51 PM
That's fantastic that Celerity Troika has created a culture of parent involvement, and that youdeem them to be an ethical charter (in spite of the hiring of the former Crescendo charter school principal who ordered his teachers to cheat on the state tests). I believe I stated that there are some ethical charters. Not quite a broad brush. My problem is with defining the many by the existence of a few. That makes no sense to me. I'm sure you wil continue to have a great experience withTroika, as you seem to be a very involved parent. Good luck.
Martha Infante September 08, 2011 at 05:54 PM
Yes Ajay, LAUSD has a unique relationship with charter schools, but I encourage you to read more about the education reform movement nationwide so you can understand why labeling schools as "non-charter public schools" is considered inappropriate by some.
mkinla September 08, 2011 at 06:50 PM
@Martha, not familiar with the Crescendo charter situation you mention. Would you send link to news pieces?
Martha Infante September 09, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Sure, here it is: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/07/la-officials-reverse-course-again-they-move-to-shut-down-crescendo-charters-implicated-in-cheating.html
Susan R September 09, 2011 at 02:55 PM
I take issue with saying the lottery (to get into these charter schools) is above board. If you have the right connections you can get in. And, they rarely accept disabled students. There are definately favortism issues getting into these schools. That lottery system is fake. It is a big scam so people think they have a chance when they really don't.
Alberto September 09, 2011 at 03:53 PM
@Susan - I'm sorry but I take issue with your blatantly ignorant claim. Clearly you've forgotten that not every exception does a whole make and in almost any case there will be an exception. My gf teaches at KIPP LA Prep in Boyle Heights and I can tell you the lottery is not only above board but that school is also getting inundated with parents who have special needs kids submitting to the lottery because they've failed to find success at other public schools. Personally, I think the LAUSD, with its greater resources, number of people and money, is - or should be - the best place for these kids, it just makes sense but wasn't working for these parents. Many kids with serious, serious issues are being admitted (via the lottery) and my I'm aware of many regular meetings to ensure the school is able to not only "handle" the kids but to help them excel. Many kids entering 5th grade there come in reading at a 2nd grade level. A child this year came in reading at Pre-K levels. The only "favoritism" shown at that school is to siblings of current students and I don't believe that's wrong at all. This school will retain kids who don't pass muster but not kick them out (though they have the right to do so). It has been our experience that the few who do leave are pulled out by parents who who can't live up to their end of the bargain. I take issue and offense at your defamation - mostly because you're wrong and I don't think you even care.
mkinla September 09, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Would prefer not to get into a back and forth over this, but must reply to your unfounded assertion in our case, and the case of the other families fortunate enough to have gotten slots at our school. We did not have any connections with the school before submitting the lottery application. We also were rejected in lotteries at Arroyo Seco Magnet (where we knew a teacher--that didn't help!) and Aveson Charter in Pasadena. I do not know the ratio of disabled students at the school in comparison to other LAUSD schools, so cannot comment on that. Hope you would reconsider commenting in similar broad fashion ("that lottery system is fake") on particulars about which you know nothing.
Alberto September 09, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Martha, I certainly can't speak for all charter schools but it seems you have more of a handle on them. I'm only familiar with KIPP LA Prep and a former Greendot school in the Valley. The Greendot school was horrible, changed its name twice and finally my sister got her daughter out of there. But I have heard good things about another Greendot school. KIPP LA Prep is excelling right now with kids who are entering the 5th grade way, way behind grade level but I can't even use them to speak about all the rest of the KIPP Schools. It would be like saying I know one family (or two or three) in Eagle Rock so therefore I can comment on the entire Eagle Rock community. (or I know bad teachers in LAUSD - and I do - but therefore will comment about all LAUSD teachers) I know anyone within LAUSD can submit to the KIPP LA Prep lottery and the only kids who get around it are siblings of current (even retained) students. Specifically, which charter school (or "schools", you say) is/are turning away your students. And, as a strong "public school" supporter, why exactly are you aghast at the notion that your students would continue at the non-charter school? Again, because I'm curious - and respectfully I ask - which charter is rejecting the students and how are the rejections issued? Lastly, how many have been "rejected"? You are obviously involved and engaged (not on the periphery) so I'm being sincere. You can reply on The Board of my profile if you like.
Alberto September 09, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Btw, the girlfriend first taught w LAUSD for 4 years and excelled there, too. KIPP LA Prep isn't getting acknowledged (that I've seen) but it is actually the #1 middle school in LA City right now in terms of API scores. (I only mention the accomplishment because it should be celebrated that the best middle school in the city right now is in Boyle Heights by kids who live there - we should all be proud of them.) Bottom line on issue of charter schools: kids need all we can give them and LAUSD includes charters in their family. There are problems with many charters and problems with many "mainstream" (or whatever you want to call them) schools, too. Instead of celebrating accomplishments or taking lessons to heart, adults prefer to bicker in "team" rivalry. The poor and working middle class suffer from these distractions in Congress and students suffer from them in comments like Susan's and, in part, Martha's (but she seems, at least, to be an involved party). Patch and Eagle Rock - this all totally doesn't belong here and I apologize for contributing the tangential thread. As a Franklin student, I attended ERHS for summer school and swam at the pool next door; I had a good number of friends there and loved that school then. I applaud their accomplishment and cheer them on to meeting - and exceeding - the goals ahead.
Scott Martin-Rowe September 09, 2011 at 05:32 PM
Here's the bottom line, hopefully. While charter schools are under the jurisdiction of LAUSD, charters schools and LAUSD run very differently. Charter schools are autonomous in terms of staffing, curriculum, governance, and schedule. For example: A charter school isn't bound to "norming," which means that they are per pupil funding based. They get a pile of money and get to decide how it can best be used by their schools. LAUSD schools - except for Pilot school - cannot do this. They get money based on various formulas and many funding lines are restricted. Every year schools across LAUSD either spend thousands of dollars on supplies - necessary and sometimes unnecessary - so that they don't have to give the money back. Very few funding categories can be carried over to the following year. Charter school can choose their own curriculum, LAUSD schools usually do not have this freedom. They are bound to texts from the district approved lists and are often subject to district-wide curriculum mandates. Charter schools can stipulate that parents volunteer a minimum number of hours at the school or their child must attend elsewhere. District schools cannot do this. In short, this means that Charters have a greater percentage of parental involvement. I will tell you right now that parental involvement is key to success. The students I have whose parents are involved and present are usually top performers.
Scott Martin-Rowe September 09, 2011 at 05:39 PM
cont. Charter schools can hire and fire at will. District schools are bound by teacher tenure. We lost a great teacher at our school this year because she was RIF'd. We were bound to a list of teacher who had been displaced from their schools. If we a Charter she would have stayed. Any guess as to where she'd working now? I think Charters are 95% of the time great, and more and more the district is looking to make its schools more "charter-like." That said, Charter schools and district campuses are run very differently, and comparing them against each other without acknowledging these huge differences is dishonest.
Alberto September 09, 2011 at 05:49 PM
"Charter schools and district campuses are run very differently, and comparing them against each other without acknowledging these huge differences is dishonest." Hear Hear! (This thread has now been thoroughly hijacked. Sorry)
Martha Infante September 10, 2011 at 01:04 AM
Hello All, I appreciate the dialogue about schools and education, & I believe one of the goals of micro-blogging sites is to encourage this type of conversation about issues in the specific communities. My comments on charter schools in this Patch are just one of many that I make in several Patches. As both a teacher & teacher leader, I believe it is important for the general public to learn about the nuances of education reforms, some that I feel are very destructive to public schools, & I myself blog about this at accomplishedcaliforniateachers.com In my experience, successful charters work well with their clients, the parents. It is the effects (intended or unintended) that they have on public schools that is troublesome. While highly participatory parents may self-select to attend successful charters, parents who are not in the know, or who are unable to participate in their child's education are left in the public school system. This creates an imbalance, financially and academically. I think this effect could be mitigated if charter schools were required to accept all students within their attendance boundaries. Then, they would have to prove that their freedom from district restrictions truly did result in improved performance. We can't say that right now because they are (by and large) not educating the same percentage of challenging students. This is not an opinion, it is the conclusion reached by a UCLA study of charter schools: http://bit.ly/qDrnTj
Martha Infante September 10, 2011 at 01:09 AM
Correction: my blog address is http://accomplishedcaliforniateachers.wordpress.com/ Thanks for the dialogue everyone. Best of luck to all Eagle Rock schools.
Alberto September 13, 2011 at 05:48 PM
I'm sorry Martha but, while all that you say is fine it does not jive with your initial statements. That is, while you say you'd like to "encourage this type of conversation about issues in specific communities" you failed to answer my request for specific information about our specific communities - namely, the name(s) of the offending school(s). In response to your statement (and I paraphrase here) "I don't knock ethical charters but many students (are rejected) from my public middle school ...except for my gifted students who "luckily" all get accepted." I indicated what schools, specifically, I am familiar with and stated the policy of a charter middle school (not High School) that does, in fact, (and as you request) "accept all students within their attendance boundaries". I name the school and say what know. I only ask that you do the same - not as a challenge but out of genuine interest. In case you missed my request you can still find it under your initial comment. While you may have very good information on the affect charters across the country have on schools across the country, it is your direct experience with the local schools that is interest here - as you state, in fact, it should be. So, please, what is/are the name(s)s of the offending local charter(s)?
Scott Martin-Rowe September 13, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Camino Nuevo (west of Downtown LA) dumps kids with low scores or IEPs. Then those students enroll at their local non-charter public school.
Martha Infante September 13, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Gladly--it is the Aspire charter in South L.A. I referred a family there who had a struggling student but the mother was told point blank the child would not be admitted due to his poor grades. His cousin with good grades, however, which applied on the same day was accepted. This was reported to me directly by the parent and it is not thefirst time I hear such reports by parents. The KIPP schools you mention are notorious for having high attrition and not admitting student in the upper grades to replace those who leave. Read http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2011/04/grannan-where-have-all-kippsters-gone.html for more info. Alberto, what is happening with charters locally is part of a nationwide movement, and helps parents here understand what may be underlying motivations or interests of parties such as charter corporations. If you are not interested in learning more about this issue I invite you to skip my comments, unless you are the Eagle Rock Patch overseer and would like me to stop providing information. If you or others are interested, there is a great summary of the education reform movement in this piece: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/09/12/reformmoney
Alberto September 13, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Thanks Scott and Martha, I'm totally checking out these schools. Martha, actually, I mentioned one KIPP School and said specifically that I couldn't and would not speak for all KIPPS, all charters, or all schools anywhere - it simply isn't fair to the schools, the children, parents or communities involved. It was my point specifically that, while you mentioned specific community issues we were lacking the name of the specific school. I respectfully acknowledged that you appear to be informed, engaged and involved and also stated I was asking in order to be more informed - not as a challenge. I never suggested you would not have a name for the school or were making things up - I never believed it either. Your defensive tone (If you're not interested in learning) suggests I've offended you, and sorry for that, but you directly ignore my statement of looking to be more educated, not less, and then invite me, because I don't simply thank you for enlightening us all, to simply skip what you have to say altogether - that doesn't sound like conversation to me at all.
Alberto September 13, 2011 at 08:41 PM
I take it you understand that there is a distinction - and you do make it yourself - between local and national goings-on in terms of what people can accomplish. National battles are fine but I believe they are best fought where you are with what you have... that said, I'm not going to abandon well-functioning solutions when no better, or running ones, are available. I'm no flag-waver for charter schools (vs. what you may believe) but anyone can cite studies about how many schools of all types have many serious problems, how many schools regularly rotate their problem-students from school to school to school without regard for the outcome of the student, and how emotions and a misguided sense of loyalty keep some programs and some teachers in classrooms without real efforts to improve either. You want to talk national issues - even apply them to local problems. Trouble is, my niece doesn't attend schools all over the nation - she attends one school here and that's why I'm interested in the specific, not only the general.
Elijah H September 13, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Martha says, "While highly participatory parents may self-select to attend successful charters, parents who are not in the know, or who are unable to participate in their child's education are left in the public school system. This creates an imbalance, financially and academically. I think this effect could be mitigated if charter schools were required to accept all students within their attendance boundaries. " This same logic applies to magnets, yet the charters are the targets of opponents like Martha. If anything, the magnet system is even less fair, as it takes a certain amount of know-how to accumulate points and gain a slot at the better magnets. Parents in the wrong social circles or without the time to figure it out are at an extreme disadvantage. A simple charter-like lottery for magnets would be more fair than the current point-based system. Charters are a target for criticism while magnets slide under the radar ... this simply points to the pro-union bias of charter opponents, and their true motives.
Martha Infante September 13, 2011 at 09:16 PM
My purpose here is simple: to inform. Links have been provided to information requested. Most certainly there is a connection between national issues and local ones. LAUSD's new superintendent was trained at the Broad Academy, and Broad is an ardent supporter of the privatization movement; I don't know how much more local that gets. My purpose is also to dispel misinformation, and I do so anywhere I see it. That is all.
Elijah H September 13, 2011 at 09:18 PM
If you know of specific cases, have LAUSD investigate. You're also free to campaign against them when the charter is up for renewal. Unlike other LAUSD schools, charters are constantly having to go back to the board and prove their case for a charter renewal and continued existence - again, and again. I don't think anyone here would argue that a unethical charters should be allowed to operate, and the cases you cite certainly seem unethical. Assuming you have facts and not just allegations, please make sure those are brought to light.
Martha Infante September 13, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Elijah, I never said I was a charter school opponent. I believe that charters should have a place at the education reform table but disagree that the whole system should revolve around them. The magnets you mention do not drain funds away from districts like charters do; the funds stay with LAUSD. I'd like you to please explain what you mean by true motives; because I state the unpopular truths about many charter corporations I have a motive? What's been so disappointing is trying to believe in the opportunities charters like Aspire say they will provide and then having them flat out reject my middle school students because they have learning impairments. Charter schools were supported in their infancy by Al Shanker, leader of the teachers' union as a place where teachers could be free of restrictions to experiment and produce best practices. Charter schools have now been appropriated by the privatization/education reform movement and few are fulfilling the promises of the spirit in which they were created. To summarize, when comparing test scores between charters and public schools, simply understand you are comparing apples and oranges. One group accepts all students within the attendance boundaries, and one group is composed of families who self-select into schools with strict parental participation guidelines. Is there any disagreement with this?
Alberto September 13, 2011 at 09:29 PM
I've checked out every link provided and subscribed to one. I believe the conversation about education should be all-inclusive and impassioned. I also believe that no school or one educator yet seems to have cornered the market in national or one-size-fits-all solutions. I support public education, and I believe that magnets, charters, traditional big-box schools, etc. are all ongoing experiments toward ensuring the needs of our children our met. And I believe that, so long as the children - not the adults and/or favored models - are the focus, then we can continue to do right by them. I'd just try and be careful of a "I know best" tone or mixing the general and the specific. It doesn't work when talking about genders, ages, races, or any other group. Let's be vigilant about specific people and schools as much as we can who are doing harm to our kids and not shine too bright a light instead on "us vs. them" fights that are so attractive to everyone these days. I don't think Martha makes any specific allegation that she doesn't have proof of - not at all. It's only the mixing of the general and the specific that I'm on guard for when I see it anyone's comment.
Alberto September 13, 2011 at 09:58 PM
1. I agree that the "whole system" should not revolve around charters. I don't think there are proponents for that and I don't think it's the case. I do see a lot of alarmist speech out there that misses the forest for the trees in "us vs. them" arguing. But I'm with you here. 2. I don't agree that it is the place for a "public charter" to be turning down kids who most need the help. I do wonder, however, did the middle school get them ready for High School? I don't believe in simply accepting a "learning impairment" and passing along a failing student; I'll assume that's not what's happening there. I believe kids should move up when they are prepared to succeed. I'll take for a given that you feel the same way. 3. I think the issue question of the appropriation of the charter school ideal is deeper, broader, and more nuanced than you have space to get into here so we'll leave that alone. I do believe there are plenty though who are still "fulfilling the promises of the spirit in which they were created." 4. I mentioned a specific school that accepts any kid in their area but has limited space and employees a lottery so that there isn't bias. Parents are aware of the option and try and get in. The degree to which parents stay involved can be assumed but not known here. The apples/oranges argument can be applied to any school with a different demo makeup though and not just charters. Anyone can say, "my parents suck, their kids are better" - that's not the point.
Alberto September 13, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Scott, Camino Nuevo looks like it's just about hitting the average mark. I take it the kids who wash out of Camino Nuevo came from non-charter publics and return there. As I stated from the beginning, I'm only specifically familiar with one particular school (past my experience with my old alumns) so I don't know about them otherwise. I am curious now about what policies are for high school charters. Aspire Pacific Academy also seems to be about average right now... again, I'm really curious about these high school charters now. I know it's tough enough to turn around a kid walking in to a middle school reading at 2nd grade level (but it's done) but I wonder what the policy is for a new high school accepting students who may not be prepared at that level. For public money, you'd want them to take them. But to take them I guess you'd also expect all the additional remediation help required as well. We already know our colleges are facing big problems for how much remediation they have to do, I wonder what that's like for High Schools and how charters in particular are handling it. Do those two schools also do a lottery? How do they know who's prepared and who isn't in that case? Curiouser and curiouser.
Elijah H September 13, 2011 at 10:14 PM
My understanding (and I may be wrong) is that money flows to the district first, and the district releases a percentage to the charter, keeping the balance for "fees". The district provides no funds for facility improvements, no services, and no shared support. Charters cost less for the district to run, so I can't buy into your argument that they drain more funds from the district than a magnet receiving full services. Your bias and motives are evident when you argue that a problem with charters is that "highly participatory parents may self-select to attend" them, and it is "the effects (intended or unintended) that they have on public schools that is troublesome". Your bias is evident in your lack of concern over the larger inequity of magnet acceptance policies, while maintaining a razor sharp focus on the [unenforceable] participatory requirements that some charters impose. Stick to your allegations about a few specific charters, avoid this sort of generalization about the rest, and avoid conspiracy-like references to indoctrination by the Broad Academy, and you'll find fewer people accuse you of being a charter opponent.
Martha Infante September 14, 2011 at 01:01 AM
This thread is about the API scores of ER schools, the distinction someone chose to make about public vs. charter schools & how this may impact the scores. If I am a parent looking for info about these two types of school systems, I would want all the info I could get to make the most informed choice for my child. I have tried to provide some of that information here. Elijah, the statement about charter parents self-selecting to such schools & being highly participatory is referenced in the UCLA Civil Rights study of charter schools, but experience & observation are also a form of data. An investigative report of New Orleans schools, a majority charter district (see http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2009/11/post_42.html) confirmed what many of us are seeing in public schools: choice is the luxury of a lucky few. There are differences between charters & magnets. Magnets: a 1 page application, no report card required, no CST info required, no 30-40 hour yearly parent commitment as a condition of acceptance. Magnet schools have an elected parent board, must be transparent about budget issues, & are under the strict vigilance of the school district. Charters? The opposite of the above. I've seen the effects on students who get kicked back to the public school system firsthand, but it's overwhelmingly from the charter schools. I'd want this info if I were a parent.
Alberto September 14, 2011 at 03:04 AM
Again, as nice as studies are, as a parent, I'd want to know the specifics of schools available to me. I'd also be interested in the fact that traditional schools don't always provide ESL-trained teachers for ESL classes; that ESL kids are tracked and the high school counselor at the traditional school will likely place them in ICS (a remedial science class not-eligible for college credit) regardless of whether the student was an A-B science kid the previous year; that "opportunity transfers" ship problem kids from one school to the other And Then Back again regardless of the effect this may have on the child; that zip codes are used to track kids from poorer neighborhoods into lower-performing schools and away from an available higher-performing school... Martha, studies abound all over the political map and I think you need to discern whether you informing to educate or perpetuating fear and bias. Again, you're clearly a trooper for your kids, someone who delivers the goods. But clearly you Are an opponent of charter schools, and possibly other programs out there, and, by the way, we could also tell you about the effects of students Entering charters who have been jerked around by the traditional system. Yes, parents deserve ALL the information, Martha - and the traditional schools still have the edge on what parents actually know about... Al Shanker was not an early supporter of charter schools because the system was functioning well, after all, now did he?
Susan R September 16, 2011 at 04:18 AM
I find this to be a very healthy discussion. Why shouldn't adults "bicker" over LAUSD giving their kids a bad education. Why shouldn't adults be mad over a 50% drop out rate? If there was school choice schools would have to compete for your business just like a business does. Since schools have a captured audience, if your poor, then why would they improve? Public schools have gotton worse over the years and not better. And, about the lottery, I meant the lottery for the magnets. I don't know about the lottery for the charter schools. And, I would like to see some statistics of how many kids with IEP's are in charter and magnet schools that are disabled and not honor students. While many may apply I would bet few make it. After all they would drag down the scores if they were accepted. The LAUSD continuation teacher in Cypress Park Community Center refuses to take any special education students. Just call and ask her. Discimination exists and is well and alive in LAUSD.

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