The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education has decided against the implementation of a new set of rigorous graduation standards, believing that a large number of students would be unable to earn diplomas.
Over 22,000 students in the Class of 2017 across LAUSD could have potentially failed to earn a high school diploma had the new standards been implemented, reports Howard Blume for The LA Times.
"I am worried we are setting students up for failure because this district hasn't gotten its act together," said board member Tamar Galatzan.
The board was considering requiring high school seniors to earn at least a C in a set of college preparatory courses that are required to attend four-year state universities. Doing so would ensure that all graduating seniors would be able to apply to the University of California and Cal State systems.
However, the board decided against those standards. Instead, students may pass the course and graduate as long as they receive a D. They will remain ineligible for admission to the UC or Cal U school systems unless they earn at least a C.
The decision came as the result of the news that as many as 75% of 10th graders in the district, the first class to be affected by the new requirements, were not on track to meet them.
Not everyone agreed with the policy move. Students and parents rallied outside LAUSD headquarters before the vote, arguing that lowering the grade requirements would not allow students to reach the benchmarks necessary to attend college in California.
In addition, board members are also asking LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines to create a number of interventions, including online courses that would allow students to make up credits and take summer classes, in order to help students who are behind or struggling with their course load, writes Annie Gilbertson for KPCC.
Cortines drafted a memo suggesting that $15 million be used next year on graduation initiatives, which would work out to around $100 per student.
"By working together, acting with urgency, and investing dollars wisely, we can bridge the gap between a belief that all students can succeed and a world in which they actually do," Cortines wrote.
An agreement was also reached by board members to expand upon services available to help high school students who need to continue their classes until they reach age 22.
Board member Monica Garcia maintains that despite dropping the new requirements, the district does plan to continue its push toward higher academic goals for its students.