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Partnership for LA Schools Making Progress

By Tom Vander Ark, Getting Smart

describe the imageThe Partnership for LA Schools is a collaboration between the mayor’s office, the district, and local foundations. The Partnership serves more than 15,000 students across 17 campuses in Watts, Boyle Heights and South LA. Former Mayor Villaraigosa’s education deputy, Joan Sullivan, recently joined the team as CEO.

Former Gates Foundation program officer Colleen Oliver is Chief Academic Officer. She outlined Partnership progress: 

  • Network-wide API (the California school ranking system) growth for 2012-13 was 21 pts (2011-12 was 34 pts) making the Partnership the most improved school system in the state with API gains outpacing all other mid to large schools districts;
  • Partnership schools outperformed LAUSD and the state in all 4 content areas on state tests for the second year in a row; and
  • Graduation rates improved 9 percentage points (14 points over two years).

The Partnership continues to refine their turnaround model. More than 50% of school leaders were replaced in the last two years. Leaders are supported by heavy investment in professional development and coaching and will be implementing LAUSD’s multi-measure evaluation process with teacher leaders at each school to lead the evaluation process and Common Core implementation. 

The Partnership expanded their Parent College to all three neighborhoods and regularly have over 1000 families attending Saturday sessions. 

“Blended learning continues to be a focus across our network in math/literacy,” said Oliver. Like many districts, the Partnership has made more progress at the elementary level. “ST Math and Achieve3000 are our best programs,” added Oliver, “we are piloting ST Math at one of our high schools this year and continue to work closely with the MIND Research Institute including having a group of our elementary teachers write model lessons for them.” 

Russ Altenburg from the Broad Foundation, said, "The Partnership for LA Schools is working with The Learning Accelerator (TLA) to deepen blended learning integration across all 21 schools." (TLA was a co-author to the Blended Learning Implementation Guide.)

Despite massive challenges The Partnership is making real progress with a blended turnaround strategy.  

Tom Vander Ark is CEO of Getting Smart, an education advocacy firm. Follow him on Twitter at @TVanderArk.

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