Magnets Perform Well on State Assessments for Second Consecutive Year

LOS ANGELES (Aug. 29, 2016) – L.A. Unified’s popular magnet schools and centers surpassed statewide averages on the rigorous math and English tests, and made noticeable gains against independent charters by double-digit margins on California’s new assessments, according to data released today.

Statewide, an average of 37 percent of students met or exceeded standards on the math assessments, while 49 percent performed at that level in English Language Arts. In traditional District schools, 29 percent of students met or exceeded math standards and 39 percent hit those marks on the English exam.

In the District’s analysis of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, 61 percent of magnet students met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts, compared with 45 percent of independent charter students. On the math assessments, 48 percent of magnet students met or exceeded standards, while 31 percent of independent charter students hit those marks.

“This is another accomplishment to celebrate as we move closer to our goal of preparing all of our graduates for success,” said Superintendent Michelle King. “We are working hard to identify strategies that support student achievement. We want all of our schools – no matter what model – to continue making progress so that students can fulfill their potential. What’s great about L.A. Unified is that we believe in all of our schools and all of our students.”

Student Integration Services Executive Director Keith Abrahams added: “Magnet schools are committed to creating and maintaining a culture of rigor, high expectations, and scholarship. Our schools establish the necessary conditions for innovation, exploration, and academic success. We view the Smarter Balanced results as a testament to our hard work.”

L.A. Unified currently has 214 themed magnet centers or free-standing schools, with plans to add or expand at least 13 more in 2017. The themes include business, communications, the increasingly popular STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – and programs for gifted students.

The District created its magnet program in the 1970s as a voluntary desegregation program designed to increase racial equality in schools. Students are enrolled through a lottery system that uses various criteria to assign priority points to applicants.

“Families have many choices when it comes to educating their children, and I am proud of the high-quality options that L.A. Unified provides,” Superintendent King said.

The online Smarter Balanced exams are based on California’s more challenging academic standards. They are designed to assess a student’s ability to write clearly, think critically and solve complex problems – just as they will need to do in college and the workplace. Students take the test each spring in Grades 3-8 and Grade 11.

According to the report, performance was highest in Grade 11, with 76 percent of magnet students meeting or exceeding English Language Arts’ standards, and 46 percent reaching those marks in math. By comparison, 65 percent of 11th-grade charter students met or exceeded standards on the English Language Arts exams and 33 percent performed at that level in math.

In comparisons of ethnic groups, African-American, Latino and white students each scored 12 percentage points higher than their counterparts in independent charters. The gap between Asian students in magnets and charters was 5 points.

Magnet students with disabilities showed a 1-point drop in proficiency from the 2015 data but outperformed their magnet counterparts. Among demographic subgroups, only English-learners in independent charters outperformed their magnet counterparts – 11 to 6 percent – the results remaining stable from the prior year.

Demographically, independent charters mirror traditional District schools, with 82 percent of their students classified as low-income compared with 80 percent for L.A. Unified as a whole. Magnets had low-income enrollment of 69 percent. Magnets also had lower percentage of students with disabilities (6 percent), compared with charters (11 percent) and traditional schools (12 percent).

Among ethnic groups, magnets had the highest percentage of African American, white and Asian students, compared with independent charters and traditional schools. The enrollment of Latino students was 58 percent for magnets, 74 percent for charters and 73 percent for traditional schools.

Just 5 percent of magnet students were English-learners, compared with 19 percent for independent charters and 18 percent for traditional schools.

The data was compiled by Dr. Cynthia Lim, executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability.

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766

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