Ed Trust–West Releases Fourth Annual Report Cards Grading the Largest Unified School Districts

Apr. 9, 2014 / By


Southern California and Central Valley districts once again dominate top ranks

(April 8, 2014) – Today, The Education Trust–West (ETW) releases its fourth annual District Report Cards, grading and ranking California’s largest unified districts on academic and college readiness outcomes for Latino, African-American, and low-income students.

Among the 149 districts that receive grades and rankings in 2013, the top two districts are Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified (Los Angeles County) and Rocklin Unified (Placer County). Tied for third place are Baldwin Park Unified (Los Angeles County), Bonita Unified (Los Angeles County), Claremont Unified (Los Angeles County), and Clovis Unified (Fresno County). Over the four years that ETW has issued a report card, six districts have been repeat top-ten performers (Baldwin Park Unified, Clovis Unified, Rocklin Unified, Los Alamitos Unified, San Marcos Unified, and Temecula Valley Unified). A number of districts, including Claremont Unified and Downey Unified, have shown dramatic improvements since the first report card was issued in 2010. For example, Claremont Unified advanced from 48th to third over the last four years by improving the performance of its low-income students and closing gaps in performance between African-American and white students.

This year’s results once again reveal higher poverty districts that are consistently achieving strong academic results and graduating high numbers of college-eligible Latino, African-American, and low-income students. Five of the top ten overall districts serve large numbers of low-income students and students of color. Baldwin Park Unified (Los Angeles County), Downey Unified (Los Angeles County), Sanger Unified (Fresno County), and Glendale Unified (Los Angeles County) all have majority low-income student populations. And, five of the top ten overall districts serve a student population with more than 50% African-American or Latino students.
“Many of the top districts for low-income, Latino and African-American students are mid-sized school districts in southern California and the Central Valley,” said Leni Wolf, Data and Policy Analyst at The Education Trust–West. “They don’t often make the headlines or attract a lot of attention, but their results speak for themselves.”

A section of the District Report Cards website highlights the best practices of higher poverty, higher performing districts. On April 30, The Education Trust–West will host a webinar where district and school leaders from top-performing districts will share strategies that have contributed to better student outcomes. (Please register here to join us for the April 30 webinar.)

To create the report cards, ETW uses publicly available data from the California Department of Education to assign “A-F” letter grades and numerical rankings in four key categories. Districts are graded on academic performance, academic improvement over five years, the size of achievement gaps, and college readiness (including graduation and completion of the “A-G” courses required to attend a California State University). Grades on these four indicators are combined into a single overall grade. This is the last year that the District Report Cards will use data from California’s Academic Performance Index (API), which is undergoing an overhaul as part of California’s transition to the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments and a new system of school funding.
“Over the last four years, these districts have shown that they can dramatically improve outcomes for their highest need students,” said Jeannette LaFors, Director of Equity Initiatives at The Education Trust–West. “They are now poised to take advantage of the Local Control Funding Formula and the Common Core State Standards to achieve even better results for their highest need students.”
The report cards are available online at: http://reportcards.edtrustwest.org.

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About The Education Trust—West
The Education Trust—West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.

The Education Trust—West
1814 Franklin Street, Suite 220
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 465-6444
Fax: (510) 465-0859

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