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One school year later, how did veteran LA teacher's experiment work out?

Lisa Alva, a teacher at Bravo Medical Magnet High School in the L.A. Unified School District, leads her last lessons of the school year before finals on Fri., June 1, 2017.
Kyle Stokes/KPCC
Lisa Alva, a teacher at Bravo Medical Magnet High School in the L.A. Unified School District, leads her last lessons of the school year before finals on Fri., June 1, 2017.

Last August, with a new school year about to begin, high school English teacher Lisa Alva was making plans to solve an age-old problem.

"The 'A student' will always get an A," said Alva, "and then you have students who will always get a 'fail' … They always, always, always do that. So I wanted to find a way to challenge both ends of the spectrum."

When she spoke to KPCC last August, Alva — who has taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for two decades and at Bravo Medical Magnet High School for the last two years — was preparing an experiment that would reorganize her classes.

Alva's plan, in a nutshell: mix "A" students with struggling students into carefully-crafted groups and have group members rate each others' work. She would then grade students, in part, on the strength of their group's work.

Alva hoped stagnant A students would no longer be able to skate through her classes with ease and that the small group setting might force low-performing students to engage with the work more seriously.

Now that school's out for the summer, we wondered: how did Alva's experiment work out?