Members of the Lodi Unified School District Board of Education were concerned and disappointed to learn how many students received D’s and F’s in college placement (CP) courses last semester during a presentation at Tuesday night’s board meeting.
Out of 316 students enrolled in ninth grade English CP at Lodi High School, 22.78 percent received a grade of D or F last semester, the report said. Out of 230 students in 10th grade English CP, 15.65 percent received a grade of D or F.
At Tokay High School, 401 students were enrolled in ninth grade English CP last semester, with 42.14 percent receiving a grade of D or F. Out of 321 students enrolled in 10th grade English CP, 26.48 percent received a grade of D or F.
According to a Friday email from Chelsea Vongehr, a public information officer for LUSD, there are numerous reasons for D’s and F’s.
“Some are academic, social, individual and/or systemic. The district and our schools offer a variety of supports to help students,” Vongehr wrote. “We have added high school counseling, mentoring programs, tutoring, intervention courses and other supports within (and outside of) the school day. As well, we generate and analyze test results and other data.”
According to Board Member George Neely, the problem began years ago when “experts” said that all high school students should take all CP classes.
“All kids aren’t going to college, and the idea of having them take all CP courses doesn’t make sense,” Neely said.
The goal of a high school is not to send every student to college, Neely said, but to prepare them for life after high school, even those who do not attend college.
Whenever a student faces expulsion, Neely said, the school board reviews that student’s academic records. In many cases, a student who failed a ninth grade English CP class was put into a 10th grade English CP class, only to fail again.
“The bottom line is, it makes absolutely no sense to me to take a student who fails English nine CP and put them directly into English 10 CP,” Neely said. “We’ve got to come up with alternatives.”
Although Neely has been working for years to find solutions to this problem, he expressed disappointment that the district has not made enough progress. He plans to keep working until he sees results.
“I’ve got three, almost four years left on this term, so I’m going to keep pushing on this,” Neely said.
Courtney Porter, currently in his first term as a board member, offered several possible solutions such as reducing class sizes, particularly for English classes.
“If you can’t read, you can’t do anything,” Porter said.
Porter also suggested offering competitive pay for teachers, which he believes will help recruit and retain qualified teachers, as well as more accountability and collaboration.
“As those teachers are collaborating, let’s see what products they create and reward them for it,” Porter said.
Consistent grading systems and getting more students to enroll in summer school are other possible solutions, Porter said, along with expanding the AVID program, which teaches students study skills, note-taking and more.
“(AVID is) one of the few programs I’ve seen, in my 38 years of teaching, coming out of the state that is worthwhile,” Porter said.
Porter also advocated for more parental involvement.
“We have to create better partnerships with parents,” Porter said. “They are the biggest stakeholders (in student success).”