Students stay at new Locke High

Two years after turning LA’s low-performing Locke High School into a charter school, Green Dot Public Schools reports a dramatic improvement in the retention rate.  The new Locke is retaining 93 percent of students, compared to 69 to 84 percent retention rates when the district ran the high school. That means 800 additional students have stayed at the new Locke instead of dropping out or transferring.

Green Dot’s first freshman class has now completed two years, and the trajectory is looking much better, with 73 percent still enrolled. This compares to 43 to 44 percent of a cohort retained after two years under LAUSD.

A majority of Locke’s tenured teachers signed a petition to turn Locke into a Green Dot school in 2008-09. Green Dot broke the huge school into seven small schools, hired new teachers and principals, cleaned up the campus and created an alternative education program. The school serves the same attendance area as before.

My retention rate link isn’t working for some readers.  It should be up on Green Dot‘s site in the news section soon.

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Comments

  1. CarolineSF says:

    Just to be clear, enrollment data are not yet posted publicly for 09-10, based on the California Dept. of Education website. So this report is based entirely on Green Dot’s own PR, which can’t be confirmed.

  2. CarolineSF says:

    Also, your link doesn’t work, and when I try to find even Green Dot’s press release I can’t locate one. The excerpt that you quoted doesn’t jibe with your own description — or not in a way that I can make sense of — and I can’t find the source of the excerpt. Can you clarify, please?

  3. The link works for me. I’m not sure why you’re having trouble with it.

    If you want more info, contact Tracy Mallozzi, (310) 280-3710, Tracy@therosegrp.com.

  4. Joanne, it’s the link you’ve made out of the words “retention rate” that doesn’t seem to be working. It takes me to a gmail 404 error screen. Was it supposed to go to this ABC News article? http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=8318903&page=2

  5. CarolineSF says:

    Thank you. I e-mailed Tracy at The Rose Group. Meanwhile, could you please clarify the information below?

    Joanne: “The new Locke is retaining 93 percent of students, compared to 69 to 84 percent retention rates when the district ran the high school. That means 800 additional students have stayed at the new Locke instead of dropping out or transferring.”
    Me: Where does the 69 to 84 percent information come from (that’s quite a wide spread)? Did the departure rate vary that much year to year?
    How did whoever did this math decide whether to use 69 or 84 percent?
    Does that 800-student figure refer to one year?
    Can you clarify this entire calculation?

    Joanne: “Green Dot’s first freshman class has now completed two years, and the trajectory is looking much better, with 73 percent still enrolled. This compares to 43 to 44 percent of a cohort retained after two years under LAUSD.”
    Me: How does this information jibe with the line above stating that Green Dot is retaining 93% of the Locke students? How can Green Dot be retaining 93 percent of its students if 27% of its rising juniors (class of 2012) have left since they started 9th grade?
    Is this stating that 56 to 57% of the students in a previous class in the LAUSD era had left by the end of sophomore year? Does that jibe with LAUSD figures?

    I’m confused — can you explain?

  6. Los Angeles, CA. (August 09, 2010) – Green Dot Public Schools announced the results of a new study today which demonstrates their success in reversing the drop-out rate at Locke High School. Green Dot is retaining an unprecedented 93% percent of students from beginning through the end of the year. According to the data, that means over 800 more students were still in school at Locke High School at the end of Green Dot’s second year running the school, a 36% increase compared to previous years when Locke was under the control of LAUSD and the retention rate was in the low-80% range.

    (I can’t reproduce the graph, which shows LAUSD retention data from 2003-04 through 2007-08: 80 percent, 69 percent, 81 percent, 83 percent, 84 percent. Locke reports its rate as 94 percent in the first year and 93 percent in the second year.)

    “This is an incredible proof point that is often overlooked when evaluating our success,” says CEO Marco Petruzzi. “For us, retention is such a key factor in the first few years of a turnaround. If you can’t retain the students, it’s impossible to educate them.”

    The study, which was conducted by Green Dot, also follows several freshman cohorts to see how many freshmen stay at Locke year after year. The data shows an even more dramatic picture, because the effect of a lower retention rate is compounded over multiple years. Under LAUSD, only 1 in 4 freshman were still enrolled after 4 years. Green Dot’s first freshman class has now completed two years, and the trajectory is looking much better, with 73% still enrolled. This compares to 43-44% of a cohort retained after two years under LAUSD.

    (The second graph shows cumulative loss of students over four years for the old Locke and two years for freshmen who started at the new Locke.)

    “Students and families vote with their feet. The fact that more families are choosing to enroll their kids at Locke High School and students are staying, means we have positively impacted the school,” said Chief Academic Office Cristina de Jesus.

    Green Dot attributes its successful turnaround at Locke to several key factors, including breaking the school into a family of seven small schools, bringing in new teachers and principals to ensure alignment with the educational philosophy, creating a clean, inviting and safe campus, increasing interventions, and creating an integrated alternative education program. Each of the schools in the Locke cluster are autonomous, supported by Green Dot’s efficient back office, and all of the teachers are members of the Asociación de Maestros Unidos, a CTA/NEA affiliate and the exclusive collective bargaining unit of Green Dot teachers in Los Angeles.

    “What Green Dot is doing at Locke will be a model for any school district looking to turn around underperforming schools. The Locke transformation will prove beyond any doubt that Green Dot’s practices and those of other successful small school operators can be replicated by school districts on a large scale,” said Ted Mitchell, President of New Schools Venture Fund and President of the California State Board of Education.

    Green Dot was granted control of Locke High School in 2008-2009 school year, when over 50% of Locke’s tenured teachers signed a petition to turn over governance of Locke High School to Green Dot Public Schools. This historic decision marked the first time that teachers, supported by an external school operator, forced the restructuring of a traditional public school.

    Green Dot currently operates 18 schools in Los Angeles, CA and one in Bronx, NY.

  7. CarolineSF says:

    Your distillation of these figures was unclear, but the original press release still raises questions.

    “Green Dot’s first freshman class has now completed two years, and the trajectory is looking much better, with 73% still enrolled.”

    That would be a total loss of 27%, or an average loss of 13.5% per year, for the Class of ’12. The losses in the classes of ’10, ’11 and ’13 must be really small to drop the overall average to 7% per year. If the self-reported and currently unconfirmable data are accurate, that’s clearly a much smaller loss than in the LAUSD era, but I’m just curious about that. Can you clarify?

    Of course you know it’s inaccurate and misleading to conflate the mobility rate (kids who move) with the dropout rate (kids who quit school), and low-income students tend to suffer very high mobility rates. But if the figures are accurate, it would indicate that families may be moving and keeping their kids at Locke rather than transferring.

    (The press release fails to mention that after more than half the LAUSD Locke teachers voted to bring Green Dot in, Green Dot fired the majority of them. I understand that the prevailing view would be to applaud that, but I’m just noting it.)

  8. CarolineSF says:

    Haven’t heard from The Rose Group yet with answers to my questions about the data.

    Does the tendency to reprint press releases without questioning them correlate with the tendency to be a true believer about “it’s a miracle!” school reform?

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