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Los Angeles Unified Posts 'Historic High' Graduation Rate

With ongoing turmoil at the top of the leadership ladder in Los Angeles Unified, the district delivered some good news this month, posting its highest graduation rate in recent years.

The district reported a 77 percent preliminary graduation rate—a 12 percent increase over last year, according to The Los Angeles Times. That amounts to 25,000 graduates in the 2013-14 school year for the district, which educates about 640,000 students. 

The new cohort graduation rate, which Superintendent John Deasy called a "historic high," included only students enrolled in comprehensive high schools, and excluded students who had transferred to alternative high school programs—those more likely to drop out, the paper reported. When those students were included in the calculation, the 2014 graduation rate decreased to 67 percent—still higher than in recent years, according to the paper. (The district's release also did not include students who attended summer schools and have since graduated.)

The Times reported that the increase is the district's largest to date under the current tracking system, which dates to the 2006-07 school year.

The good news comes at a time when the district is wrestling with how it would move forward—possibly without Deasy—amid dissatisfaction in some quarters with the superintendent's leadership style and his handling of a $1.3 billion iPad programThe superintendent has been at the center of discussions on whether he would stay or go, despite a contract through 2016.

Critics have said that his leadership style has led to low morale among teachers and staff, The Times reported. Supporters point out positive strides under Deasy, including the rising graduation rates, along with better outcomes for English-language learners, new teacher and principal evaluations, and changes to discipline policies to drive down out-of-school suspensions.

The school board is set to conduct Deasy's evaluation on Oct.21.  The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the majority of the seven-member board has asked its attorney to start reviewing terms of a possible separation package with the superintendent.

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