Los Angeles Unified School District is experiencing cold feet over its long term plan to raise academic standards. Eight years ago the second largest school district in the nation adopted a plan to have all students take college-prep classes. This plan is due to take effect this fall and would require incoming freshmen to pass these classes if they wish to graduate. However, district officials have just realized the potential downside of their plan: what happens to students who can’t cope with the more rigorous classes?
“If we don’t do something, we have to be prepared to be pushing out kids as dropouts,” said Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino at a school-board committee meeting Tuesday. “We face a massive dropout rate in four years.”
Officials have now released an amended plan, which would reduce overall graduation requirements and allow students to ‘pass’ the college-prep classes with a D-grade, despite the public university system in California requiring a C or better for admission.
Under the proposed alterations students will be able to graduate if they have 170 credits, down from 230 under the current plan.
“I know of no other school district in California that is reducing graduation requirements by 60 units and calling it an improvement,” said former senior district official Sharon Robinson.
She is not the only one skeptical of the proposed changes:
Former school board member Marlene Canter, who also supported the more rigorous requirements, said, “It doesn’t make sense,” to push for a college-prep curriculum but not the grades necessary for the courses to count.
Students at Los Angeles have said that officials’ fears over plummeting graduation rates are ungrounded and most will have no problem getting through the courses if they become mandatory. Senior Erik Segura said that under the current system where minimal effort is required, ‘They just start slacking off and getting lazy’.
Another student, junior Rosario Lopez also supports the idea of higher benchmarks for success:
“If the students know they can just pass with a D,” she said, “then they’re not going to take the initiative to get a higher grade.”