Superintendent's Holiday Message 2013

December 19, 2013

Dear LAUSD Family,

With the holidays upon us, and 2014 around the corner, we have an opportunity to be grateful for our accomplishments with an eye toward our next victories. As the second largest district in this country, progress can sometimes seem isolated in pockets and frustratingly slow in pace. What is not apparent, especially in media coverage, is that our work has great rewards and results. I am proud of how far we have come in moving forward so all of our students succeed.

Last week, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, released results of how students in grades 4 and 8 fared in reading and mathematics in 21 urban districts. The NAEP test is an ongoing assessment designed to evaluate what students in these grades know and can do in a variety of subjects. And, since 2003, LAUSD has also participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which allows for district-by-district comparisons. By this critical measure, our students have achieved outstanding improvements in recent years.

LAUSD fourth-graders since 2011 had the second highest overall gain in reading – four points –of all 21 urban districts. Both African-American and white students in fourth grade had the highest gains in reading compared to any other urban districts nationally.

There’s more. Los Angeles had the highest gains – 15 points – in reading scores for eighth graders compared to other districts over the past 10 years. Hispanic/Latino, Asian and economically-disadvantaged students surpassed the gains of all other urban districts surveyed by NAEP in reading. Over that same period, mathematics scores for eighth graders in LAUSD increased by 13 points, which was higher than the national average.

We can’t forget that we achieved these extraordinary results while the District was in the throes of the worst sustained budget crisis in its history. We lost valuable colleagues, shrunk programs and did more with less yet our students, teachers, staff, and leadership kept the focus on education and learning in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe. You helped our students move closer to our collective goals.

It is fair to say that 2013 has been a year of transition. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the shifts in instruction are here. Our Common Core Technology Project is moving forward. New CCSS assessments are on their way. We will lose the leadership of Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Jaime Aquino who has helped us keep our focus on the core instructional relationship between the student, teacher and the content. This month we lost the voice of Board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte whose dedication and passion we will miss. Still, in the midst of all these changes we will move forward together because our colleagues, whether at our schools or offices, are on this journey with us for a reason, a season or a lifetime. The walk to a world where every LAUSD student is college and workforce ready continues.

It is clear that for the students of the LAUSD, poverty is not destiny. The implications of this are profound, for the future of this city, region and the nation. I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished together these last few years. Enjoy your holidays. Rest up because our work continues.

Dr. John E. Deasy, Superintendent
Los Angeles Unified School District