LEARN Students Making Gains, Study Reports

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Children who attend schools that participate in Los Angeles' LEARN program are showing gains in academic achievement, according to an independent study of the reform effort.

The 649,000-student district, the second-largest behind New York City, released the results of an independent study of the 3-year-old program, conducted by the Los Angeles-based Evaluation and Training Institute, in June.

The Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now, which was started in the 1993-94 school year, seeks to improve student performance by giving schools greater autonomy from the district.

The study gathered data from 29 of 34 schools that were involved in LEARN from the beginning and that remain active in the program.

Overall, 297 of the district's 663 elementary, middle, high, and special schools are participating in LEARN.

Encouraging Results

Half of the elementary schools studied increased their percentage of 4th-grade students who scored above average on at least one of the three sections--reading, mathematics, or language-arts--of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, a nationally normed standardized test.

The study, which was conducted in the first half of this year, found that 50 percent of the schools increased their percentage of 4th graders who scored in the upper half of the reading section.

The schools also reported improvements in student attendance.

"While the results involve only the first LEARN schools, I am delighted that the study shows such concrete improvement in several areas," Superintendent Sidney A. Thompson said in a statement.

The study, however, did not provide comparable data on achievement and attendance for schools that are not in the program.

Vol. 15, Issue 41

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