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L.A. Unified unveils latest school report card, which aims to reveal warts and all

January 27, 2010 | 12:44 pm

Los Angeles school officials unveiled a more user-friendly school “report card” today that is more focused on information than public relations. The new product updates an effort that began last year, when L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines sought to make school performance more transparent, even when the data revealed disappointing results.

Last year’s report cards, however, were difficult to read and had not yet incorporated features such as an annual survey of parents, students and school staff. Officials acknowledged the ongoing need to improve response rates on these surveys at many schools.

The data for a high school include the percentage of 9th graders who move to the 10th grade -- a key indicator of whether a school is reaching troubled students. That information could be more reliable, in fact, than dropout rates, which remain subject to manipulation. The revised report also includes student proficiency rates for special programs at a school, like a magnet program. But still missing are proficiency rates for a school once students from higher-scoring special programs are removed from the calculation.

The report cards are going out to the families with students enrolled in nearly all schools managed by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Not included until next year are primary centers, special education centers (for disabled students) and continuation schools.

Some L.A. charter schools, although not managed by L.A. Unified, also are participating. Cortines said he would like all charter schools within school district boundaries to take part. But they have to be part of the district data system, and many have invested in different software.

The district fashioned the latest version of the report card after feedback from focus groups and with the support of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the California Community Foundation.

Report cards for individual schools can be found at reportcard.lausd.net or www.lausd.net/ReportCard.

-- Howard Blume