15 thoughts on “LAUSD Focus Schools (was Program Improvement (PI) Schools)

  1. Hey Magnet Yenta:

    I note that Askamagnetyenta does not have a category on Program Improvement Schools. It’s worth going into.

    Like other frenzied, API and “demographic” obsessed parents, when I had my first dizzying view of the LAUSD “Choices” brochure (2 yrs ago), I was horrified by the number of schools in the District branded as the awful “PI” or Program Improvement” schools…….the equivalent of a Scarlett Letter. There seemed to be a boatload of them, with an equal number of “At Risk” for PI status schools trailing behind. Makes you want to have a few of those martinis.

    But I learned this year that PI schools are not necessarily the wolf in wolf’s clothing. Interestingly, they are often pretty decent schools, who received the PI status for the following reason only: they fell behind making API improvments, for 2 consecutive years, in as little a one category of student test performance: i.e., special needs kids, or English learners. It is not always the entire school that is suffering.

    The cool news about PI schools is that once it gets branded (smell the burn), the State now throws tons of extra money at them in Categorical and other program funds. Some of these schools may actually have MORE enrichment, computer lab, etc. programs than the “good school” in Studio City or Sherman Oaks.

    A last point to make: theoretically even the best of LAUSD’s schools can end up with the dreaded PI status, since schools must continually show API score improvement. Schools whose scores stay stagnant or dip slightly 2 years in a row would automatically become PI. And considering that the API tops out at 1000 points, even a school with a current API of 960 could hit the ceiling and end up as a PI school. Ludicrous!

    Of course, with all the LAUSD budget cuts, who knows how much more extra $$ the PI schools will continue to get; for now, families running away from Program Improvement Schools may be advised to check each school out individually. Don’t rely just on the Choices brochure or greatschools.net………

  2. I’ve been explaining this to parents for two years. The middle school near my daughter’s middle school is well regarded, and the program improvement letter was sent home to all parents. Sadly, it doesn’t explain why a school is PI or that it was one subgroup. Ironically, every middle school I checked in the Valley was PI. So theoretically, a parent at Nobel or Reed could apply to get out of their program improvement school. Where would they go? It’s silly.

    On the other hand, PI is a great program for kids from San Fernando or Sylmar middle schools to get into schools with stronger academics. Yet since Public School Choice utilitizes the same brochure as magnets, meaning you can only apply to either a Magnet or a PSC option.

  3. My concern is that i recieved the letter from the scool stating the school is a PI school. They are giving me the option to transfer to two other schools. One has a score of 3 the other has the same score as the one that is considere PI. What other options do I have.

    • Find out *why* your child’s school is in PI. Is it one of the subgroups, or are all groups affected. What made you choose this school to begin with?

      Truthfully, PI in one subgroup might not be an indicator of difficulty for your child.

      If you decide you want to look at other options, ask if there are other receiver schools your child can attend, if you provide your own transportation. Typically transportation is provided for PI moves, which might be why you’re only given two choices.

      You can also decide to look at charters or open enrollment options.

    • It is up the CEAC and SSC to decide how the extra money (and my understanding they just get the 10% set aside from their title one funds) will be spent to help the subcategories improve.

    • My kids are in middle school and we got the PI letter, but I don’t understand what that means as far as the options for next year. Can someone explain as it doesn’t do much good to get a letter in September to gives me the option to transfer for the next academic year, especially if a new level of school will be in the mix next year?

      • One step further–if you take the PI, you can’t apply to magnet, as it’s in the same application. PI is an interesting alternative if you have no other clear options. I can’t really picture it being of use to families with any clear choices.

  4. You know. I checked out info on PI schools. Apparently only 550 kids in LAUSD opted to use the PI transfer last year, which was about .5% of the population that COULD have used it. I think it’s a good tool if you are not happy with your childs school, but then again who knows what schools they will send you to.

    • There’s a bigger issue with utilizing PI transfers. You have to use the magnet brochure, which eliminates that choice for potential applicants. There is actually a list of schools for PI transfers, some offer a choice of a school or two, other schools only offer a single option (for instance, middle school in LD 1 was Hale this year). If it’s an option you want to pursue, contact LAUSD.

      • That’s right, you CAN’T apply for any magnet schools if you use the application for PI, but if you don’t want your child to go to a magnet school too far from your home (ie so friends and playdates will be closer) or feel like getting into the magnet you want is pretty slim then you might consider it. I did, but then decided against it. It’s too much of a risk for us. We will be applying to Community Magnet like the rest of the world. 🙂

        • What is a Magnet school? I attend CAVA high school it is online, we recevied the PI letter 2 weeks ago. I am so confused? Why would i want to transfer? Will going to a PI high school affect my chances of getting into the college of my choice?

          • The LAUSD Magnet Program is a Court-Ordered voluntary integration opportunity available to students in grades K-12 who live within the boundaries of LAUSD. The purpose is to provide an integrated educational and personal experience which prepares them to function in a diverse society, and helps to eliminate, reduce or prevent long-standing patterns of racial isolation. Each Magnet’s openings are determined by the need to maintain a racially balanced enrollment and by available space. Only gifted, high ability, highly gifted and talented Magnets require specific eligibility criteria. No other screening, including grades, placement tests or auditions may be used as criteria for admitting or eliminating students.

            For PI school, read all the detail here:

  5. I am bummed to read this thread as I did the choices brochure for magnets and had no idea that my school was PI or that I could not apply to magnets if you take the PI. I am a fairly with -it mom and had no idea, never received a letter about my school. Disappointed to have missed an opportunity for my daughter and truthfully never saw anything about it on the eChoices but must have missed it. Navigating all of this is just a nightmare and we have not started K yet!

  6. Pingback: Required Viewing for Test Scores and Ratings « Ask A Magnet Yenta

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