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Los Angeles Welcomes New Superintendent

John Deasy, the superintendent of the nation's second largest school district, has set some lofty goals in the first few days of his administration.

Deasy plans to start a management system for the 678,000-student district that measures schools, teachers and adminstrators—including him— on 15 performance indicators. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Deasy called the plan a "moon shot:"

The graduation rate must rise from 55% to 70% in four years; the percentage of middle and high school students who test as "proficient" in math must nearly double; and the percentage of students who pass courses required to attend state four-year universities must nearly triple, he said.

Other ambitious goals announced Friday apply to English comprehension, attendance and suspension rates.

If the district achieves the goals, "we've done a bit of a moon shot," Deasy said in an interview Friday. "If we come near them, we're doing great. If we don't, then we will have failed ... And if we fail, we should be held accountable."

Deasy is replacing Ramon C. Cortines, who retired after 60 years in education.

On his first day of work last Friday, Deasy outlined the same improvement plan for the Los Angeles Daily News. He also visited four schools, and the inspections turned out to to be more than just a pleasant staged tour. From an article:

At every school he also forced administrators to take him to the classrooms they considered "bright spots" and the "biggest concerns."

After spending five minutes in a classroom at another South Los Angeles elementary school, where a teacher never made eye contact with his students as he read a math lesson script from a computer screen, Deasy stormed out of the classroom.

"That is a problem," he said somberly. "We need to do something about that," he told the administrator.

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