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As 22,000 students risk not graduating, LAUSD board eases requirements

Student, parents and community organizers protest for more resources for students failing to meeting new graduation requirements.
Annie Gilbertson/KPCC
Student, parents and community organizers protest Tuesday outside the Los Angeles Unified board meeting for more resources to help students failing to meeting new graduation requirements.

The Los Angeles Unified School District board unanimously agreed to ease high school graduation requirements, no longer requiring a C grade or better in college prep classes.

The school board is modifying a commitment made a decade ago to require so-called A-G courses, the classes required to become eligible for University of California and California State University entry, to earn a high school diploma.

The higher standards haven't dramatically improved student outcomes: more than 22,000 LAUSD students in the Class of 2017 risked losing out on a diploma they may have been eligible for in a neighboring district or nearby charter school.

“I am worried we are setting students up for failure because this district hasn’t gotten its act together,” said board member Tamar Galatzan.

At its meeting Tuesday, members agreed students could earn a D rather than C in the college prep courses.

Board members also asked LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines to design interventions, such as online classes to make up credits and expanded summer school, to help students who are struggling with the advanced coursework. 

In a memo drafted ahead of the meeting, Cortines recommended spending $15 million next year on a graduation initiative to support students. The sum works out to about $100 per high school pupil.

“By working together, acting with urgency, and investing dollars wisely, we can bridge the gap between a belief that all students can succeed and a world in which they actually do,” Cortines wrote.

The board also agreed to expand high school services for students who need to remain in classes until age 22 to graduate.

This story has been updated.