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Locke & The School Test Scores—A First Round Analysis

August 19th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

State test scores assessing California’s schools came out Monday and among the stories to be told out of the new round of scorings, is the fact recently transformed Locke High school.

But, as the LA Times points out in a Wednesday editorial, not necessarily all of the important indicators that a school is becoming healthier, are to be found in standardized test scores.

Here’s some back story on the Locke/Green Dot transformation.

And here’s a clip of the LAT piece:

The state test results released Tuesday for Locke High School weren’t the sort of thing its new operator, Green Dot Public Schools, is accustomed to seeing: Not a single student scored as proficient in geometry, for example, and only a few percent tested at the next level down, basic.

By and large, students scored no better than they had under the Los Angeles Unified School District. But Locke is a different kind of charter school, and in its first year it successfully changed other, previously dismal numbers. Truancy was down. Crime and class-cutting were down. The numbers of students staying in school and taking the tests were up dramatically. Those suggest a changed culture at Locke and are the most important indicators of progress.

As this page has noted, Green Dot took on a much bigger challenge with this Watts high school than it had with its other schools. Charter schools typically start small, accept only as many students as they have ample room and staff for, and draw more motivated parents and students from a broad geographical area. Most public schools operating under those conditions would get higher scores too. But by enrolling all the students within its attendance boundaries — including the perpetual truants, gangbangers and likely dropouts along with the honors students — Locke accepted the same challenges faced by L.A.’s more troubled public schools.

Green Dot could have made itself look good by letting the potential dropouts go. After years of cutting classes at the old Locke, they were unlikely to score well on the state’s standardized tests. Instead, Locke tested 38% more students this year than last. That means a lot more students were still in school in late spring, when the state tests are administered.

Reducing the dropout rate is the single most important priority for L.A. schools — and it’s worth noting that the district has made gains in that area while modestly raising test scores. It will take a few years to see whether there is a pattern here, but there’s reason to feel encouraged.


Posted in Green Dot, LAUSD | 3 Comments »

3 Responses

  1. Woody Says:

    A lot of those students should be in trade or technical schools rather than in an academic program. But, the students are learning self-disicpline, which wasn’t on the test.

  2. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Thanks for keeping us up to date on this very important story.

  3. poplockerone Says:

    Where in the world is “Watts” High School?

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