Successes are hard to scale, too

Some school districts are bucking the statewide trend, narrowing achievement gaps with higher-than-average outcomes among disadvantaged groups of kids. The Learning Policy Institute recently highlighted these “positive outlier” districts in which students of color are outperforming their racial, ethnic and socioeconomic peer groups.

In the Chula Vista Elementary School District, for example, reading and math scores have risen by double-digit percentage points for black, Latino and economically disadvantaged students. 

But California public schools educate more than 6 million students, so it’s difficult to scale successes. The state is home to the nation’s second-largest district (Los Angeles Unified), dozens of other large districts each responsible for educating tens of thousands of kids, and hundreds of small districts spread throughout the state’s urban and rural areas.