Magnets Perform Well on State Assessments For Third Consecutive Year

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 18, 2017) - L.A. Unified’s popular magnet centers and schools outperformed independent charters by double-digit margins for the third consecutive year on California’s standardized assessments, and also beat statewide averages on the rigorous math and English tests, according to a new District analysis.

The report from the Office of Data and Accountability shows that 60 percent of magnet students met or exceeded standards in English-language arts (ELA), compared with 46 percent for independent charters. On the math assessments, 48 percent of magnet students met or exceeded standards, compared with 31 percent of those enrolled in charters.

Students who meet or exceed standards are considered to be college- or career-ready, or to have demonstrated the knowledge or skills needed for future coursework.

Statewide, an average of 49 percent of students met or exceeded ELA standards, while 38 percent hit those marks in math. The averages for District schools – which include traditional campuses, affiliated charters and magnets – 40 percent met or exceeded ELA standards and 30 performed at that level in math.

“We are pleased that so many of our students have attained proficiency as we prepare them to succeed in a challenging and diverse world,” said Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “Our focus remains on working together to support learning and achievement so that all of our students will graduate with the skills and knowledge demanded of the next generation of leaders.”

L.A. Unified magnets have outperformed other school models since the Smarter Balanced assessments were introduced in 2014-15. The District currently operates 225 themed magnet schools and center, with plans to open four more full-school magnets and 31 magnet centers for the next school year, 2018-19. The District also oversees 224 independent charters which are run by their own boards.

According to the new analysis, magnets outperformed charters across every grade level and among all ethnic subgroups. Among Latino students, for example, 55 percent of magnet students met or exceeded standards in ELA compared with 43 percent of those in charters. In math, those levels were achieved by 41 percent of magnet and 29 percent of charter students.

Among African American students attending magnets, 45 percent performed at the highest levels in ELA and 30 percent in math. That compares with charter scores of 31 percent and 16 percent, respectively, for ELA and math.

While charters enroll higher percentages of low-income students, those in magnets outscored their charter counterparts, 54 to 42 percent in ELA and 41 and 28 percent in math.

Board of Education members said the District is committed to providing high-quality academic options that support student success.

“We must learn what works and we must make substantial investments to support accelerated growth in every classroom in Los Angeles,” said Board President Mónica García. “These results demonstrate that students, families, educators, staff and community partners are working across the region to reach 100 percent graduation. There is much more work to do and I know that L.A. Unified is up to the challenge.”

"I’m proud that L.A. Unified’s innovative school models continue to make progress and push the entire district to reach new heights,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “The diversity of our school models – traditional, pilot, charter, dual immersion and magnet, to name just a few – reflects the diversity of our city and our recognition that it is only by providing a portfolio of school models that we can truly reach all students.

“This data shows us that innovation is working,” Melvoin added. “But it also reminds us that, across all school models, we still have a long way to go in closing achievement gaps and ensuring that every student graduates college and career ready.  The sobering reality is that when only 38 percent of students in California meet standards in math, we have a lot of work to do.”

“In times where the focus is on building 21st century skills, we’re pleased that so many of our students – especially our ethnic subgroups – are demonstrating achievement,” said Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna, III. “With the expansion of magnets in the coming years, we look forward to providing more opportunities for our students to achieve.”

“It is gratifying to see that for the third consecutive year, magnet programs have outperformed charters by wide margins on the SBAC English and math exams at every grade level and across almost all demographic groups,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson. “I commend the dedicated L.A. Unified educators and support staff who do such a great job of serving our magnet students.”

“L.A. Unified’s magnet programs are proof that this district has high-quality options for our students and families,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “Now that we have more data to study, we see that all of our schools—traditional district, magnet, and charter—continue to show great progress. I’m glad that the District has intentionally and thoughtfully focused its supports on English Learners, but we must continue to push for higher reclassification rates, which is key to ensuring English Learners succeed on the SBAC, in school, college and beyond.”

“We celebrate the charter and magnet schools that have made progress in ensuring that all students are learning and are becoming college and career ready,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “The data show that there is more work to do, and we plan to examine the results to assess how we can improve our practice so that every child in Los Angeles is receiving a high-quality education.”

“I am encouraged by the results showing a years-long trend of improvement in our SBAC scores – demonstrating that we have great schools and that steady, albeit stubborn, progress is being made,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “We still have a long way to go, but I am positive our District is moving in the right direction.”

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Contact: Barbara Jones (213) 241-6766