UCLA Study: Students from Locke Family of High Schools Show Significant Improvement in Achievement, College-Preparedness

May 15, 2012

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In a multi-cohort study released today, UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) found that students attending the Locke Family of High Schools showed significant improvement in student achievement, including graduation rates, taking more challenging courses, standardized test scores and graduating with the requirements needed to be considered "college-ready" by the University of California. The study found Locke graduates scored higher on California's high school exit exam on their first attempt and passed the English language and mathematics sections of the test than their peers at LAUSD high schools in the area.

"These findings are a testament to the hard work of Green Dot's students, teachers, parents and administrators," added LAUSD Board Vice President Dr. Richard Vladovic, who voted to support Locke's conversion to a public charter school in 2008. "We share the same goal, getting our children prepared for college and encourage a lifelong love of learning. I applaud Green Dot's successes and I look forward to their future successes serving our communities."

Researchers from UCLA used a rigorous, data-driven design to examine the effects of Green Dot's transformation of Locke. Using data supplied by LAUSD, researchers matched entering 9th graders at the Locke Family of High Schools with students who had attended the same set of feeder middle schools but, based on residence, attended one of three other South Central high schools. The three schools were Jordan High School, Fremont High School and Washington Preparatory High School, all part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

"This is an 'apples-to-apples' method of analyzing student achievement," said CRESST Director Dr. Joan L. Herman, who led this data-driven study. "This study shows clear and significant progress made by students attending and graduating from the Locke Family of High Schools when compared to other public schools in the area. These results were achieved while maintaining a similar student population prior to the transformation of Locke to a public charter school operated by Green Dot."

Students were matched so that Locke Family of High School and comparison students were virtually identical in demographic characteristics and 8th grade achievement. The researchers then tracked the academic progress of both groups on a range of outcomes over a four-year period.

The representative sample used in the study found that overall Green Dot graduated significantly more students than did comparison LAUSD schools. Of the Locke students persisting to graduation, 48% of the students tracked in the study completed the A-G requirements, as compared to 13% of graduating students at other area high schools.

CRESST also found these same graduating Locke students scored higher on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) on their first attempt and passed the English Language and mathematics sections of the CAHSEE by the end of 11th grade at higher rates when compared to their LAUSD peers. The study released today tracked students that graduated in 2011 - in what CRESST calls Cohort 1 - over the course of four years. CRESST also is compiling data for the campus' current class of 2012 (Cohort 2).

"We are encouraged by these positive results, but also humbled by the hard work before us to continue helping students become competitive at the nation's top colleges and universities," added Marco Petruzzi, president and CEO of Green Dot, who has said student retention and rigorous coursework lead to positive results. "We have learned a great deal about what it takes to significantly improve student outcomes in a chronically under-performing school. We look forward to sharing these lessons with the education community."

The Locke Family of High Schools in South Los Angeles resides on the campus of Alain Leroy Locke High School and in two satellite campuses adjacent to the main campus built to address the need for more classroom space that resulted from higher student retention rates.

Before Green Dot began operating at Locke, graduation rates were below 28% no other high school in Los Angeles County had consistently lower Academic Performance Index (API) scores. Green Dot reorganized the campus into several small, safe, personal learning communities.

For the 2010-11 academic year, the Locke Family of High Schools had an weighted average API score of 591, compared to a score of 511 in 2006-07 academic year. CRESST was tasked with monitoring the progress and effects of Green Dot Public School's transformation of Locke High School through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The full study can be found at www.cse.ucla.edu.

About CRESST

The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) is comprised of leading national testing and accountability researchers from UCLA, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Santa Barbara. With main offices at UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, CRESST conducts research into accountability systems, practice, and policies. The center also evaluates a broad number of educational programs and methods, with a central goal of improved achievement for all students and reductions in achievement gaps.

About the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure all people--especially those with the fewest resources--have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About Green Dot Public Schools
Green Dot Public Schools is the one the largest Charter Management Organizations in Southern California, operating 18 public charter schools - 14 public high schools and four middle school - in Los Angeles' highest-need communities. Green Dot's teachers and classified staff are members of Asociación de Maestros Unidos and Ánimo Classified Employees Association, local affiliates of the California Teachers Association, giving these teachers and staff the respect and flexibility to do their best work for students. These schools are publicly funded and free to attend. For more information visit: www.greendot.org.

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