San Diego Unified has a huge problem on its hands.
Data just released by the district shows troubling news about the class of 2016, the first class being held to new stricter graduation requirements. Among the revelations in the data:
• Only 59 percent of the class of 2016 is currently on track to graduate. That means about 3,000 students are currently falling short.
• The numbers are even more discouraging for troubled high schools like Lincoln, where less than 30 percent of students are on track.
• Most startling is the outlook for English learners. A mere 9 percent of them, districtwide, are currently in line to graduate. Nine percent.
• Only 24 percent of students with special needs are on track to graduate.
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Infuriating! Check out a solution offered regarding the 2 year world language requirement: "Students with special needs may be able to take sign language in place of a world language." Note... " sign language" rather than ASL and (grrrrrr) "in place of a world language" ... Ignorance shown at the level of those making the graduation requirements certainly will affect a school's ability to open and implement courses to meet them.
ASL is a world language. The course is as rigorous as the other options students can choose from. It is not a language designed to remediate special needs but to utilize the natural visual access of a cultural linguistic community of Americans. Yes, it is an excellent language option to offer, but for all interested students, not only special education students. It is a practical, enriching language not a watered down option, which is, additionally, an insult to the abilities of the vibrant and able special education students within our district.
Look deeper at overloaded caseloads for special education teachers across the district to provide the support needed for special education students to be successful. This is a negotiation point for the new contract that the district is not willing to remedy. Additionally, overloaded caseloads for high school counselors is even more grim. My school has each counselor at nearly 100 students over the current contract limit. This is the second year of a set of high school grievances continually denied by the district and discounted for negotiation on next year's contract. Teacher contract negotiations are an opportunity to listen and respond to staffing concerns most closely vested to students daily success. High school students need 5-day access to counselors... part time slots systemically compromise access to services and the numbers in this article suggest it is time to honor the investment to counseling services the current contract delineates and cooperatively negotiate contract language that will protect future student rights.
Diego dad seems to be the only commenter who gets the truth. The Master Plan for Higher Education plans for the top ten percent of California high school students to go on and attend a University of California college. That is what the A-G requirements were developed for. Thus, the school board in the awful ignorance raised the bar foolishly. These requirements are a very elite bar meant only for the very gifted. It seems that the board needs a course in basic statistics. Half the population is below average and the issues of an urban school district make this kind of requirement dangerous. The ultimate result is pushing kids out of high school into gangs and crime.
This is ironic when the California Partnership Academies have reported a ninety five percent graduation rate with all graduates receiving an employable skill. These career academies have a proven track record that the district would do well to expand. This is the kind of reform that can actually help kids. The college only mentality must go.
@mariokoran This is just a continuation of what you have been saying in all of your earlier articles...and I commend you for it! You have been revealing the truth...something that is in short supply in the PR obsessed SDUSD leadership.
Marten and the Board of Education are good at hoopla and photo ops but when the data is revealed, it shows they are all complicit in a cover up of Marten's inexperience and poor leadership and the Boards support of it.
Your article this summer was shortly after SCPA had our principal removed...I commented that how ridiculous it was for Marten to remove Principal Lizarraga when we had graduated 99% of our students..and how the Marten was just using Graduation Rates as talking points for her own ineffective administrative agenda.
Your article above just reinforces that concept.
In this article we now find that SCPA has an 80% "on track to graduate"...better than La Jolla High...better than Patrick Henry High...and with SCPA having an equivalent ELL's population and a Title 1 funds qualifying Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) of 52% vs 38% at Henry and 21% at La Jolla
On display is the total lack of wisdom and experience of Elementary School Superintendent Marten...she decided to remove the Principal at SCPA....who is now leading an even more prestigious Public Arts High School in Los Angeles...the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts - http://www.lachsaalumni.com/#!about1/cwlj
Marten and the Board will be naming the new SCPA Principal tonight at the Board of Education meeting...check out my take on the fake principal selection process on my blog at http://districtdeeds.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/24-hours-left-in-the-martenfoster-scpa-principal-selection-illusion/
In my opinion, just more cover-ups and redundant nonsensical talking points by this District leadership who have no idea how to manage or retain talented personnel or any interest in really collaborating with the SDUSD Stakeholders.
Good article, Mario. Ensuring every student has the A-G credits they need in CA is exactly what SDUSD should be doing (IMO). But it is the work that goes into the transitional years during large-scale change efforts (like this) that is most critical. The additional supports needed for those students who are having the most difficult time making the grade (so to speak) are important to consider when budgeting and prioritizing resources. It would be cool for VOSD to do something really progressive in your “Meeting of the Minds” format, focused on what is truly working in k-12 education. I’d recommend getting a great education researcher on a panel with Reality Changers, Teach for America, High Tech High, e3 (at the Downtown Library) and/or a top academy from within SD Unified and have them share specific, tangible strategies that are working. A panel with lots of rhetoric about getting all kids to live up to their true potential and making sure we all set high expectations for students will accomplish nothing. But bringing in those educators and civic leaders who have created schools, programs and solutions that are working for hundreds of kids can become a starting point for analyzing what could work for thousands of kids. That is an ongoing conversation that VOSD could play a very important role in driving. Again, nice article. Thanks.
Good article. A lot of the problems can stem from earlier schooling. For instance, my children entered High School without any Foreign Language nor Science classes, so that automatically puts them behind. I too was uneducated about these requirements, otherwise I would have fought for them at my children's school. We will most likely take our youngest out of Middle School were she currently attends and put her in a STEM oriented school that does have Foreign Language. Many schools don't inform their parents much about anything beyond fundraising. All children should have basic skills of balancing their checkbook, bill paying, basic finance, home economics, computer skills, basic courtesy, some foreign language, some sort of sport or extracurricular, when graduating High School, in the very least.
College prep courses should be available to all students, but not required to graduate.I’d rather see some of these kids take consumer math where the can learn about interest on loans, compounding interest on investments and how to create a budget, or business composition where they can learn how to write a professional letter or email.
Not everyone is college material and the required graduation curriculum should reflect that
YES! Used to be there were two main courses of study: academic (college prep) and vocational (job prep). Whatever happened to the latter? And WHY doesn't SDUSD bring it back??
@DiegoDad College is a great experience and an opportunity we need to make available to all, but it is not the sole purpose of high school. To not graduate is to fail, but students who are not going to college right after high school, or who are going to community college, or who are going to work a trade and live as productive citizens are will now be labeled failures because they can't graduate high school.
This has clearly been done with the best of intentions, but it will hurt today's children and tomorrow's citizens.
@MarioKoran There is a silver lining in every cloud! a-g completion: 4 in 10 in 2009; 5 in 10 for class of 14; 6 in 10 for current juniors.