SDP Releases New Findings on LAUSD Graduation Rates and College Readiness

April 8, 2013

Report Finds Significant Gap Between Levels of College Readiness and Graduation Rates for Los Angeles Students

Los Angeles, CA. (April 8, 2013) – Findings released today by researchers at the Strategic Data Project (SDP), based at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, highlight trends in progress towards graduation and college readiness for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). Using an analysis of data accumulated on the class of 2011 that includes student’s grades, credit accumulation, and exit exam results, SDP researchers uncovered a number of important findings about student success in high school.

Key SDP findings include: identifying a large gap between the number of students graduating and the number who are deemed college ready through completion of their A-G requirements—such that only one-third of 2011 graduates had completed the requirements necessary for admission to college within the University of California and California State systems. Other key finding show ninth-grade performance in coursework, particularly earning enough credits to be on-track for graduation, was strongly related to on-time graduation. In addition, the LAUSD average 59% four-year graduation rate was found to range widely by individual high school and by ethnicity, even when comparing students of similar eighth-grade English performance.

“The district’s most important goal is to have students graduate from LAUSD college ready and prepared for careers," said LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy. "The findings of this study help us to pinpoint best practices and identify areas of improvement to achieve our ambitious goal."

“We hope these analyses prompt district leadership in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, to explore in more detail how individual high schools can contribute to the college readiness of their students,” said Jon Fullerton, executive director of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University.

In this report, entitled The SDP College-Readiness Diagnostic, SDP studied LAUSD student data from the 2007–08 school year through the 2010–11 school year. The report addresses three major topics. How does progress towards graduation differ across schools and sub groups? How well are students staying on track for graduation and do they recover and graduate on time when they do fall off track? How well are students staying on track for meeting the college readiness A-G requirements?

The Strategic Data Project partners with school districts, charter school networks, and state education agencies to bring high quality research methods and data analysis to bear on strategic management and policy decisions. The analyses presented today comprise the SDP College Readiness Diagnostic, which is the result of a study conducted by SDP in partnership with LAUSD. It is one in a series of SDP Diagnostics conducted with partner districts across the country. The project is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Findings will be discussed today at a Los Angeles Education Research Institute (LAERI) Research Symposium, co-hosted by SDP, LAERI, LAUSD, and Cal State University, Los Angeles. The symposium will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at Cal State LA, with introductory remarks by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy.

SDP Diagnostic reports for other districts can be found at ""


The Strategic Data Project’s mission is to transform the use of data in education to improve student achievement. Better access to appropriately analyzed data will allow system leaders to better diagnose issues, develop solutions, and monitor the results of implementing these solutions. Our theory of action is that if we bring together the right people, assemble the right data, and perform the right analysis, we can improve the decisions that leaders make such that student achievement improves significantly.

The Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University

The rapid accumulation of student achievement data represents an untapped national resource, one that holds the promise of breaking longstanding stalemates in the education policy debate. The Center for Education Policy Research works with university-based researchers and policymakers to bring these new data to bear in evaluating policies and drawing implications for reform.

Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University
50 Church St, 4th Floor Cambridge, MA
For more information, visit: "WWW.GSE.HARVARD.EDU/SDP"

For Immediate Release Contact: Ashley Dixon
Tel: (617) 496-9457