How many students in the La Unified School District go on to earn college degrees?
Only one in four, according to a major new study produced by scholars from Claremont Graduate University and UCLA together with the la Education Research Institute (LAERI).
The study, that is already drawing attention from media outlets across the Southland, such as the La Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and KPCC radio, offers \”the first comprehensive analysis of college enrollment of La Unified School District graduates and available college readiness supports,\” according to a comment released earlier this week.
For Kyo Yamashiro, who directs CGU’s Urban Leadership doctoral program and co-led the effort that produced the two studies, these studies represents a \”necessary foundation understanding patterns of college access and success, along with the supports they have to get into and thru college.\” This research, she adds, also prompts many other questions that remain to be answered, including specific types of student support and preparation, and what kinds of supports will work perfect for those who work in need.
As the nation’s second largest school district (the largest is New York City), LAUSD has a lot more than 600,000 students signed up for kindergarten through 12th grade. Although the data focuses specifically on LAUSD, Yamashiro points out that it could have wider applications.
\”While our partnership is centered on supporting LAUSD with disciplined inquiry on problems of practice that we jointly identify, we hope that the information from these studies might add a growing group of similar studies in other large, urban districts, to develop a broader, contextualized understanding of college-readiness issues,\” he explained.
\”And for many of the practitioner-scholar students that people teach in Urban Leadership, there might be some key implications that could inform improvements they are making in their own schools and districts around student academic preparation and college application supports, so that more students can choose college when the time comes.\”
Key study findings include:
Behind the Studies: A Team Effort
The creation of this study-which includes two reports on college readiness and college enrollment-was the result of collaboration by Yamashiro, UCLA’s Meredith Phillips (who co-directed the 2 reports with Yamashiro), and UCLA doctoral students Carrie Miller and Thomas Jacobson. Their collaboration took place through LAERI, that is a nonprofit research organization involved in a research-practice partnership with L.A. Unified.
Yamashiro and Phillips founded LAERI in 2011, and both new studies were made possible with a grant from the College Futures Foundation to LAERI and UCLA. The research work, which Yamashiro said took a little more than a year . 5 to complete, addresses the pressures and shifting landscape that lots of urban schools are experiencing today.
\”Districts and schools are increasingly feeling pressure to look beyond just getting students over the hurdle of senior high school graduation,\” she said. \”They’re feeling pressure also to prepare students for viable post-secondary futures. Our hope is that these research is a step within the right direction toward identifying some areas to prioritize for improvement in addressing this pressure.\”
Frances Gipson, who can serve as LAUSD’s chief academic officer, is a CGU alumna (PhD, Urban Leadership, 2012) and states that LAERI has provided all of them with \”the framework for an variety of strategies we are implementing to deal with the needs of students, families and schools.\”
Synergies between research and practice
Because educational leaders in urban landscapes face a host of specific challenges and circumstances, CGU created its Urban Leadership doctoral program, which offers innovative training made to meet those needs for educational leaders in urban settings.
In addition to Gipson, other alumni are now serving in superintendent along with other top leadership roles in school districts across Los angeles, including Downey Unified, Hacienda-La Puente Unified, Hemet Unified, Montebello Unified, and Romoland Unified.
For Yamashiro, who reached CGU two years ago to become the program’s director, Urban Leadership is an appealing route for a lot of education students since it \”takes a unique approach to training working experts,\” she explained. There is \”constant reflection, tension, and synergy between research and practice.\”
As in the case of her partnership with LAUSD through LAERI, that synergy she hopes can lead to information that solves real-world problems that might benefit students in their educational experiences.
\”The objective of our Urban Leadership jobs are to build up leaders who can constructively use research and evidence to see their decisions and approaches,\” she added.
More details about CGU’s Urban Leadership program is available online.