Skip navigation

About This Site

Just as students receive report cards to measure their performance and progress in school, The Education Trust – West has developed report cards that grade California school districts on how well they serve their Latino, African-American, and low-income students. We provide grades and ranks to the largest unified districts on four key indicators of student performance: overall performance, improvement over a five-year period, the size of achievement gaps, and college readiness.

Our Findings

Most California districts receive Cs and Ds on these District Report Cards, suggesting that they need to place a stronger focus on improving outcomes for their low-income students and students of color.

However, more than half of the districts earn As and Bs for high school graduation, because they graduate 80 percent or more of their African-American and Latino students in four years. This indicator was introduced to the report cards in 2012, along with a change to the college eligibility indicator. The college eligibility grade now represents the percentage of ninth-graders who graduate from high school four years later, having completed the a-g course sequence. In most districts, less than 33 percent of African-American and Latino students meet this mark, earning those districts Ds and Fs. 

For maps of grades by geographic region, see our regional resources page, and for profiles of lessons learned from higher poverty, higher performing districts, visit our promising practices page.

How to Read These Report Cards

No single indicator adequately describes student achievement. We use multiple measures to understand how well a district’s low-income students and students of color are faring academically. We focus our analysis on four indicators:

The PERFORMANCE indicator tells us how well low-income students (those eligible for free or reduced price meals) and students of color (African-American and Latino students) score on state tests, as measured by their Academic Performance Index (API) scores. To earn an A, the district must meet or exceed the statewide target API score of 800 (on a 1,000-point scale).

The IMPROVEMENT indicator tells us how much low-income students and students of color have improved over a five-year period, as measured by the sum of year-to-year improvement on the API. To earn an A, the district must have gained at least 100 API points over five years.

The ACHIEVEMENT GAPS indicator tells us how Latino and African-American student achievement compares to white student achievement, measured by the size of the API gap between subgroups. To earn an A, the district must have a 30-point or less gap in achievement between its students of color and their white peers.

The COLLEGE READINESS indicator tells us how many Latino and African-American students are graduating high school in four years, and how many are completing the “a-g” coursework required to be eligible for admission to a UC or CSU campus. To earn an A for graduation rates, the district must post an African-American and Latino graduation rate at or above 90 percent. To earn an A for college eligibility, the district must post an African-American and Latino cohort a-g rate at or above 45 percent. (Note that this indicator changed in 2012.)

How To Use These Report Cards

Education and community leaders can use these report cards to promote more equitable outcomes for California students. Stakeholders can use the data to help benchmark their district’s performance against other districts and to advocate for change. These data, which describe current levels of achievement, should serve as a catalyst for continued and increased investments in programs and strategies aimed at increasing educational opportunity and achievement among the state’s Latino, African-American, and low-income students.

About The Education Trust – West

The Education Trust – West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-K through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.

Don't see your district? Although there are more than 1,000 school districts in California, this website focuses only on unified districts with over 5,000 students tested.