District will accept Hillside credits

Board votes 3-2 to allow credits from outside schools but may revisit issue.

November 16, 2011|By Tiffany Kelly,
  • Supt. Wendy Sinnette holds the data collected by the district to analyze how students perform at La Canada High School versus Hillside School summer courses. The board voted to keep the system unchanged and allow credits from Hillside and other campuses to count toward graduation. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Supt. Wendy Sinnette holds the data collected by the district…

To the relief of parents who packed a board meeting Tuesday, La Cañada Unified students who take summer school courses at Hillside School and Learning Center will continue to have those credits count toward graduation — at least for now.

Board members decided Tuesday night to leave the process for accepting credits from outside summer school courses unchanged, but said they may revisit the issue in the future.

Joseph Doherty, director of the Empirical Research Group at the UCLA School of Law, analyzed the data between Hillside and La Cañada for the district. He said there was no difference between students who took history courses at either campus, but students who studied math at the Oak Grove Drive school fared far worse.

“Sixteen percent end up getting a ‘proficient’ score after taking summer school math at Hillside versus 60% at La Cañada,” he said. “It does suggest that there’s something that needs to be looked at.”


Still, the data varied by each course, Doherty said, making it hard to come to a solid conclusion.

“This is the kind of data that tells you coffee is bad for you one week, and the next that it isn’t,” he said.

The district has accepted credits from Hillside for more than 15 years, but former district Supt. Jim Stratton proposed a policy in January that would require summer school classes to have a minimum total length of 6,960 minutes. Courses at Hillside are 3,480 minutes long.

The district has spent months researching whether the shorter classes at other schools are educationally equal to those in the La Cañada High School summer school program. The program is operated by the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation because, officials say, LCUSD no longer can afford to offer it.

About 60 residents showed up in support of the outside summer school courses, with many emphatically expressing the importance of Hillside and other schools as a resource to students.

Bob Miller, a counselor at Hillside and a former counselor at La Cañada High School, said the issue is less about educational quality and more about the district’s bottom line.

“It has nothing to do with what is educationally sound or transcript integrity,” Miller said to thunderous applause. “It is all about money and the competition for that money.”

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