Green Dot: Turning around schools and transforming LAUSD

October 7, 2011

  • Print
In 2006, Locke High School was one of the most dangerous schools in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), with a graduation rate of under 25%. Now, thanks to Green Dot Public Schools, it's become a nationally recognized turnaround school, all while serving the same community, spending less money, and maintaining a unionized teaching and classified staff.

Green Dot is the leading Turnaround school operator in the country. That's why they were recently authorized to operate Clay Middle School, which is in the bottom 1% of all schools in California, and Jordan High School (in collaboration with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools), where the proficiency rate in math is 3%.

Green Dot's success can be measured by three key indicators: Retention (safety, reducing dropout rates, a positive school culture), Rigor (college preparedness), and Results (test scores and graduation rates):

  • API scores for Green Dot Public schools are substantially higher than at other LAUSD schools serving comparable communities;
  • At Locke, the graduation rate has doubled, and the number of college proficient A-G graduates has tripled since Green Dot began operating it in 2008;
  • Over 90% of Green Dot's graduates complete A-G college prep coursework, compared with 26% at other LAUSD schools; and
  • Gangs no longer intimidate students and teachers at Locke; the school is among the safest places in the neighborhood.

"At turnaround schools, our first goal is to keep students in school - to increase attendance rates and reduce dropout rates," said Green Dot President and CEO Marco Petruzzi. "The keys are to create a safe environment and to make sure students know we care about them as individuals."

Green Dot is determined to do more than improve educational quality for the students they currently serve. That's why they actively collaborate with LAUSD to improve other schools throughout the district, and share best practices with all those committed to high performance and high expectations.

Green Dot's collaborative philosophy also extends to the relationship it has built with its teachers and other staff, who have organized a unique union known as Asociation de Maestros Unidos (AMU).

"Every student in the district deserves a good education, regardless of where they live or what school they attend," said Petruzzi. "We're doing everything possible to make sure that happens."

Green Dot Public Schools
Founded: 2000
Number of schools: 18
Number of Students: 10,200

This is one of a series of profiles about high-performing charter schools in Los Angeles that are participating in the latest round of Public School Choice (PSC). The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board passed this historic initiative in 2009 to reform the operation of new schools and turn around the lowest performing schools in the district. PSC allows non-district school operators - like charter schools, teacher teams, and community groups - the opportunity to run these schools. More than 30 schools have gone through this process to date. Find out more about Public School Choice and read profiles on the other charter applicants.