LAUSD grade requirements may make graduation tougher


The proposal won't affect students currently in high school. It's for students now beginning 8th grade. There would be more advanced classes requiring higher grades. Students would need fewer credits to graduate.

The changes would require high school students to take advanced college preparatory classes, courses that are required to get accepted into a University of California or California State University school.

"Our students have to compete against students from across the world," said Gerardo Loera, LAUSD executive director of curriculum. "So we are raising the bar for our students to be competitive globally."

Students would need to take courses such as algebra and a foreign language. They wouldn't have to take electives such as health education.

And there would be another big change: The LAUSD now considers a "D" to be a passing grade. Under the new plan high school students would need at least a "C." Because that could be difficult for a number of students the graduation requirement would drop from 230 units down to 170.

"By reducing the number of credits does not mean we're lowering the bar, number one," said Loera. "What makes a student competitive for the university is not the number of credits that the student completes, but actually what types of courses, and how they do in those courses."

"You don't want to say to a kid who might not be able to hit a free throw, 'Well come on up to 5 feet away from the basket and shoot a free throw and you'll feel better about yourself,'" said former LAUSD Board member David Tokofsky.

Tokofsky doesn't think LAUSD should reduce the number of units needed for graduation. He was involved in the original 2005 proposal. He says the bar needs to be raised starting in elementary school.

"You can't suddenly become an AP [Advanced Placement] calculus student in 11th grade if you haven't been taught the requisite building blocks underneath," said Tokofsky.

Kevin Suazo graduated from the LAUSD recently and will go to college. He thinks it's a good idea to raise the passing grade to "C."

"It's better for the students because most of the people I know, they didn't even go to college, and maybe that would help them expand and do what they've got to do," said Suazo.

"As much as I agree that all our children should go to college, I believe that the elective classes can teach them as much as a preparatory class, and in fact, make them more prepared for life," said parent Megan Gaspar.

The proposal will go to the school board for consideration next month. If it's approved it would apply to all students who begin 9th grade this fall.

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