Los Angeles Board of Education passes historic resolution to support middle grade students

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 12, 2016) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education today announced the passage of a landmark resolution to help keep the nearly 200,000 Los Angeles middle grades students on the path to graduation, spearheaded by Board Member Ref Rodriguez.

The “Creating a Collaborative to Focus on the Middle Grades” resolution will bring together a team of parents, students, educators, school leaders, researchers, district staff, and other experts to create a framework by June 2016 that will uplift and reimagine the middle grades in Los Angeles.

The resolution is rooted in a deep understanding that the middle grades, broadly defined as fifth through eighth grade, need to be seen as the launching pad for a high school and college education system that enables students to contribute to California as part of its skilled, educated workforce and economy.

“The middle grades will play a decisive role in enabling LAUSD to reach its goal of graduating all students from high school prepared for college and beyond,” said Board Member Ref Rodriguez, who co-founded a middle school in his community 15 years ago, and authored the resolution. “Students’ middle grade experiences have a monumental impact on the extent to which they will close achievement gaps, graduate from high school, and be prepared to enter the 21st century workforce.”

"One of the main reasons that I ran for the School Board is the deep concern that I feel for middle school students,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson, who worked with middle school students for 30 years and co-sponsored the resolution. “I know that the middle grades are the most difficult and yet a critical passage for many students. If we are really serious about 100% graduation, we have to make sure that our students are showing up for high school prepared for a successful transition and equipped with the academic skills that they need to succeed."

During the middle grades, students are either steered onto the path to high school graduation or knocked off-track. “Middle schools are the bridge from reading and writing in elementary, to graduation in high school,” said Board Member Mónica García, who also co-sponsored the resolution. “This policy helps youth get a head start on their A-G college entrance requirements. Our district is always open to solutions, like this one, that strengthen a student’s path to graduation.”

Board Member Mónica Ratliff, another co-sponsor of the resolution, also highlighted the importance of the middle grades to prepare our students for future success. “The collaborative effort called for in this resolution will help students be better prepared to fulfill A-G requirements, graduate from high school, and experience success throughout their lives,” said Board Member Ratliff.

The resolution is bolstered by the support of national organizations dedicated to helping middle grades improve student learning with hopes to see other school districts around the U.S. make this same commitment.

“The Association for Middle Level Education applauds the work of the LAUSD in recognizing the importance of doing what’s best for our students in the middle grades,” said Executive Director, William D. Waidelich. “This resolution, which calls for the engagement of a collection of stakeholders—most notably a student representative—brings attention to the crucial middle grades years, a time of life when students are growing their appetites for learning, making informed decisions about their own well-being, and developing an understanding of their potential contributions to society.”

Additionally, The California League of Middle Schools applauds the LAUSD for making middle school students a priority: “we need to do everything we can to improve our delivery of education to them,” said Executive Director, Scott Steel. “It is a tough age for kids and schools need to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Again, kudos to LAUSD for recognizing this and taking steps to improve middle school education.”

The collaborative team will be formed by the end of this month and will present a framework to the LAUSD Board of Education by June 2016.


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