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High Schools Earn Major Federal Grant

The Long Beach Unified School District  has earned a federal grant that will bring at least $2 million – and eventually as much as $6.8 million – to help high school students improve academic performance.

Only 28 of 250 grant applications were awarded.  In Long Beach, the grant will bring $2 million for the first two years and a total of more than $6.8 million over multiple years if schools meet academic targets along the way.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the nearly $100 million in grants to support state and local efforts to reform high schools and improve the educational outcomes of students.

“These grants will help our local communities and states in working toward President Obama’s goal of once again having the highest college completion rate in the world by the end of the decade,” Secretary Duncan said. “To achieve this goal, high schools must ensure more students graduate and are prepared for success in college and careers.”

LBUSD has spent several years creating Smaller Learning Communities at its large high schools to provide more personalized environments where students are better known by their teachers, administrators and counselors.

Four of LBUSD’s six large high schools (Cabrillo, Jordan, Poly and Wilson), which together serve more than 16,000 students, were identified as having a high need for Smaller Learning Community enhancements.  These four high schools will benefit from the grant.  Wilson will retain its Classical High School model, however, with a cadre of teachers sharing a cohort of students at each grade-level.

The Long Beach grant supports the district’s larger Academic and Career Success Initiative.  It also supports the district’s move toward Linked Learning, which combines rigorous academics with working world experiences to prepare students for multiple options after high school, including college and high-demand jobs.  The newest grant aims to achieve four main goals:

• Through a comprehensive guidance and academic advising program for students and their parents, prepare all students to succeed in postsecondary education and careers, without remediation.

• Provide support services in reading/language arts and math skills through data analysis and tiered intervention, or customized levels of extra help for students, depending upon their need.

• Enroll and support students in an integrated sequence of rigorous English, math and science courses that help students to succeed in college while remaining relevant to high-demand jobs.

• Increase opportunities for students to earn college credit through Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses and/or dual credit for high school and college.

Grantees also will focus on improving teaching and learning by providing teachers with more time to plan with one another how to best meet the needs of their students.

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