In his first official day on the job, Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy promised swift, substantial and specific increases in graduation rates, attendance and test scores in the nation's second-largest school system.
The graduation rate must rise from 55% to 70% in four years; the percentage of middle and high school students who test as "proficient" in math must nearly double; and the percentage of students who pass courses required to attend state four-year universities must nearly triple, he said.
Other ambitious goals announced Friday apply to English comprehension, attendance and suspension rates.
If the district achieves the goals, "we've done a bit of a moon shot," Deasy said in an interview Friday. "If we come near them, we're doing great. If we don't, then we will have failed … And if we fail, we should be held accountable."
Some goals overlap with bonus clauses in Deasy's contract. He could, for example, receive a $10,000 bonus if the number of graduates rises by at least 8% in a given year.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reiterated Friday that he would pursue measures to support changes in the school district aimed at rapid academic improvement.
Speaking to a downtown meeting of California newspaper publishers, the mayor said he would lobby for changes in state law that would alter the rules for evaluating teachers and for granting tenure to teachers.
He also wants state laws amended so that layoffs, when necessary, occur based on instructors' performance rather than seniority.
School board member Yolie Flores said she thinks Deasy's targets are reachable, even during an ongoing budget crisis.
"I don't want to be naïve … but it's doable if he has the right team around him," she said.