All Los Angeles Unified high school students would have to take advanced courses such as algebra, physics and a foreign language and earn at least a "C" in order to graduate under a sweeping change in curriculum being considered by the school board.
The proposal outlined Tuesday is part of an effort to make every LAUSD graduate meet the minimum standards for admission to the UC and CSU systems.
Besides requiring the advanced courses, students would have to earn a "C" in those classes to get their diplomas. Currently, LAUSD considers "D" to be a passing grade.
To help students meet those tough new standards, the district would shrink the graduation requirement from 230 to 170 units, making it optional to take any electives, such as health or technology classes.
That would leave students' schedules open to repeat classes or get tutoring during the school day, officials said, because summer school is no longer an option after budget cuts.
So, in order to force all students into a single mold, the LAUSD would be willing to sacrifice curriculum variety under this proposal.
This change might cause a major shakeup in the school system however:
LAUSD has been pondering the college prep A-G curriculum for several years. The Board of Education passed in 2005 a nonbinding resolution recommending that every student entering ninth grade be required to pass it, beginning in 2012. Nothing was done until last year, when Aquino was tasked with coming up with a plan.
In 2005, some teachers urged the board not to approve the college prep plan, as many LAUSD students were not able to meet basic academic requirements and there was concern the new curriculum might lead to more dropouts. LAUSD already has an estimated 50 percent dropout rate.
The challenge facing the district in implementing A-G and getting students to pass it with a "C" is demonstrated with an analysis of the Class of 2011. Had the new standards been in place, roughly 8,000 of the 53,900 students in the class would have met the requirement.
So only about 15% would have been eligible to graduate last year if these reforms had been put in place. In a school system already so troubled, it's not clear why a one-size-fits-all curriculum approach would be desirable.