The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, an organization started by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is one of the largest public school turnaround projects in the nation, serving nearly 16,500 students across 22 schools in some of the city’s most impoverished environments.
It is a unique collaboration between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District to turnaround LA’s lowest performing schools and to create a model for doing so district wide.
An independent educational non-profit, the Partnership operates under an agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District granting Partnership schools management and budgetary independence.
Partnership schools operate within the existing attendance boundaries and labor agreements. No student is ever displaced from a Partnership school.
- One of the largest public school turnaround efforts in the nation
- A unique collaboration of the Mayor, the Los Angeles Unified School District and Labor
- A non-profit education management organization created in 2007 through a $50 million donation from Richard and Melanie Lundquist
- The largest non-district school operator in Los Angeles, with over 1,500 employees throughout its schools, and 39 education staff in home office
- Manages 22 of LA’s highest-poverty, lowest-performing schools under a Memorandum of Understanding with the District
- Approximately 15,000+ students
- 93% of whom are economically disadvantaged
- 75+% students below grade level in reading and math
- 33% English language learners
- Created in 2008 by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with 2 goals:
1. Turnaround the city’s most challenged schools
2. Pilot reforms and innovations that can be scaled across LAUSD
- Serves all students within existing attendance boundaries, and works with existing faculty and staff and under governing labor agreements
The Partnership’s comprehensive turnaround model addresses key instructional, cultural and policy issues, including Great School Leaders, Teacher Effectiveness, Targeted Student Intervention, and Family & Community Engagement.
- Great School Leaders: The Partnership recruits highly effective principals to lead its schools, recognizing that the most under served schools must have the best principals. Partnership principals are paid higher salaries than their LAUSD counterparts as an incentive for taking on the toughest schools. Principals receive extensive training on instructional leadership and organizational management through monthly leadership conferences and one-on-one coaching. The Partnership has a “high-touch” coaching model whereby senior directors (former principals with proven turn-around experience) spend approximately one day a week on-site with each principal during the first two years of a school transformation.
- Teacher Effectiveness: Improving quality instruction is the most important school-based factor to advance student achievement. The Partnership recently launched its “Teacher Pioneers” program that transforms the culture of instructional training at schools where Master Teachers drive professional development with an emphasis on collaboration, self-reflection and multiple measures of effectiveness. This fundamental change replaces the traditional teacher development model by motivating teachers to seek improvement of their craft, and increasing accountability among their peers and colleagues. Along with the “Teacher Pioneers” program, the Partnership provides additional tools and time for teacher development, consistent and reliable periodic assessments, and direct services in literacy and math training. The Partnership also has rigorous processes for recruiting, hiring, placing, and managing new staff.
- Targeted Student Intervention: For students to dramatically accelerate their achievement, it is paramount that schools provide them with targeted intervention that supports their needs. The Partnership’s two priorities in this area focus on schools’ master schedules and blended learning. The Partnership oversees its schools’ master schedules to ensure students receive their college preparatory curriculum and implements blended learning as its main intervention program. The Partnership is in the second year of its three-year Blended Learning Initiative, its key strategy to deliver technology and intervention software programs to all of its schools. A blended learning approach combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach. The Partnership is implementing programs that support students in core subjects such as math and English, as well as preparation for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), a state-required test for college entry after graduation, and credit recovery to ensure students are on an A-G track to graduate. With blended learning, Partnership students are able to have personalized instructional support while providing real time data for teachers to adjust accordingly.
- Family and Community Engagement: The Partnership believes family and community engagement is essential to turning around low-performing schools to ensure sustainable student learning and achievement. In order to drive family engagement at its schools, the Partnership implements a comprehensive program that trains parents and provides school-site supports. Recognizing that parents in high poverty communities encounter unique barriers, the Partnership created the Parent College, which offers a series of monthly workshops to improve parents’ skills to be informed advocates for their children’s education. The Partnership has also developed systems to connect parents directly to school sites. All Partnership schools have renovated Parent Centers designed to provide a welcoming environment on campus for parents to hold meetings, and support the school and their student’s education. Parents are encouraged to participate in their school’s Family Action Team (comprised of administrators, teachers, parents, and community representatives) created by each Partnership school with the sole focus of increasing parent engagement. The Partnership also invests in bringing as many community resources to schools as possible. The Partnership identifies strategic community partners for its schools that can offer students a variety of enrichment opportunities (i.e. field trips, internships, corporate school adoptions) and direct services, including nutritional, dental and medical.
For more information on the Partnership’s approach, please view the Power Point presentation here.
Overview of Partnership Achievements
- Overall achievement scores in English/Language Arts and math have increased in all but one school since joining the Partnership
- At 99th Street Elementary, CST scores in both English/Language Arts and math have increased almost 20 percentage-points
- Math CST scores have doubled at Hollenbeck Middle School
- Over three years, API scores are up 50 points across the Partnership
- Attendance rates have increased from 92% to 95%
- Suspension rates have decreased from 20% to 13%
- High school exit exam passing rates have increased from 40% to 53%
- To date, the Partnership has piloted numerous innovations now used across the Los Angeles Unified School District such as:
- Led the successful lawsuit that challenges disproportionate lay-offs at inner city schools due solely to seniority rules, (Reed v LAUSD, et al). Now students at 45 of the district’s most challenged schools are protected from the revolving door of teachers
- Initiated a policy that discovered dozens of previously unidentified gifted children at inner city schools
- Fostered the creation of School Report Cards
- Pioneered the use of online credit recovery, helping hundreds of High School Seniors graduate on time
- Drove the launch of a new data system for teachers to track and manage student achievement, now available to all LAUSD teachers
- Introduced per pupil funding, bringing more discretionary and flexible spending authority to local school sites
- We have pioneered parent engagement programs that have:
- Generated participation from 64% of all Partnership families with 10,000 separate instances of families participating in school-site activities
- Created and/or renovated Parent Centers at each Partnership school with new technology
- Established and guided Family Action Teams at each Partnership school
- Launched a Parents as Partners campaign which involved door-to-door campaigns and a phone bank reaching 4,000+ families
- Established a Parent College to educate and empower families in how to effectively interact with their child’s school
- We have been fortunate to be able to link Partnership schools with strategic partners such as:
- School-to-Home, a state-funded program which is providing a netbook and training to every student and their family at Stevenson Middle School
- Computers for Youth, a federally funded program that is giving computers and training to every 6th grader for the next three years in four middle schools
- Microsoft Corporation, which adopted the Mendez Learning Center and provided a cash grant, more than $1 million in software, and job shadowing and training
- Fox Sports West, which adopted Santee High School and brought with it programs for job shadowing, marketing support, guest speakers, and a generous donations effort that has given a new uniform to every Santee student for two years running
- DIRECTV, which has renovated Partnership Parent Centers network-wide, outfitting each with new televisions and computers