March Madness


YCSC has always been and will always be a social justice centered, project-based school. The Authentic Performance Tasks (APTs) and Community Action Projects (CAPs), as qualitative assessments designed by teachers with students in a reciprocal leadership dialogue about social transformation, are still the best ways for teachers and staff to allow for young people to propose new social, political, and economic realities in the process of earning school credit.  The entire project-based approach is our most appropriate and culturally responsive method to engage young people as they showcase their extensive funds of knowledge.

With the above in mind, YCSC added some supplemental assessment layers in the Summer of 2016 to the project-based assessment model which is still YCSC’s signature approach to assessing/showcasing student learning. The 2 new assessment layers that were incorporated in the 2016/17 school-year were Accuplacer & Study Island.  In addition, Schoology was added as the new learning management system (LMS) to host the project-based assessments but is not an assessment tool.

Over the years, YCSC leadership and its YB program partners were continually being asked from a variety of stakeholders for a way to show student growth via some quantitative assessment that would provide an objective metric to go along with the qualitative project-based assessments (APTs & CAPs) that could not produce hard numbers.

The reason for opting for growth as opposed to mastery or proficiency is because we know that educational research, coupled with YouthBuild’s extensive experience in working with young people highlights the need to factor and educationally accommodate for all social realities.  Thus, a growth model of assessment, where gains are monitored during a specified period of time, is the most culturally responsive form of assessing students.

– Dr. Rudy Cuevas

This is an excerpt from the email Rudy sent out earlier this week. Click here to view the full PDF of his message.

State testing is coming up in May. The schedule for state testing at YCSC is below. Please contact Sonia at if you have any questions or if you need to adjust your testing date.

Harvard “Pre-Texts” Literacy Training

As teachers that foster education as the vehicle towards liberation, we know that it is important for you to have a pedagogical toolkit that is consistent with such a sublime goal. In the vein of art and literacy for liberation, we are looking forward to offering a Harvard University higher order literacy certificate training called “Pre-texts” in the Summer of 2017.

Right now, we believe it will be offered in August of 2017 at YCSC headquarters with more details to be determined.

Please contact Rudy Cuevas  if you are interested and want to learn more.  We are receiving grant funds for this and we would need about 25 participants to make this work.

Click the image below for a PDF of the game you can print and use.

What does it promote?

  • high student engagement & participation
  • students discussing relevant topics that allow for multiple & diverse perspectives
  • core academic discussion skills:
    • elaborate & clarify ideas
    • support ideas with examples
    • build on and/or challenge ideas
    • paraphrase
    • synthesize conversations

How does it work?

  • Develop various prompts that challenge students to refer to a text. Develop as many prompts for as many rounds you’d like. Teachers can determine the length of time for each round.
  • Determine if you’d like to scaffold the activity and provide students with sentence starters for each type of prompt response (e.g. “agree” “new idea” “challenge/disagree” “citing evidence” “question” or “wild card” – see attached game cards). You can write/type these out onto the cards before making the necessary amount of copies
  • Distribute one set of the “Academic Conversations Game” game cards to each student (there should be six cards total per student)
  • Divide students into groups of 3-4 and seat them in a circle
  • Each “round” of the “Academic Conversations Game” will be based on one prompt
  • During each round, students place down the type of action (e.g. “agree”) in response to the prompt in the middle of the circle while articulating their response to their group. Each student can only use each type of action once per round (e.g. Student A can’t use “agree” twice in the same round. If they want to keep playing, they need to use perhaps “citing evidence” instead)

Lisa shared this presentation during the Counselor’s workshop & this handout during last month’s YCSC Directors Meeting. Click the above links to check these tools out and get fully informed of this critical SPED info!

CODEchella Sign-Ups!As you know, CODEchella is soon approaching. Check out the flyer below so you can start promoting the event. As a reminder, CODEchella will be taking place the second week of Spring Break, Monday, April 3rd to Saturday, April 8th at LA Trade Technical College.

Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

**Students must be in attendance for all six days to receive the five credits of technology or elective credit for the week of CODEchella.

Teachers, please register your students using this CODEchella form by March 17th. If you have any questions, feel free to email Nadia at

Announcing The C.U.R.E. (Communities Uncovering Real Education)

This year’s event will be held on Friday, May 12, 2017 at the Audubon Center. Every year, there will be a new focus for the C.U.R.E. event that truly addresses the need for culturally relevant STEM. This year’s theme is “STEM in your backyard.”

The goal of this interdisciplinary fair is for our students to learn how to communicate who they are by investigating culturally relevant STEM in their own communities for self-determination and autonomy.

As a reminder, we are building our learning from our aligned metrics. The C.U.R.E. event addresses the YCSC Culture “social consciousness” competency, the YCSC STEM “investigation” competency, the PCCP (PSE) “self-determination” metric, and the Humanities “communicating a message” competency.

YCSC is thrilled for this new venture. However, we need your support in finding and conducting interactive experiences that truly relate to our students. Currently, we have an interest in hiking, yoga, terrariums, and urban farming. Please email if you want to conduct a workshop or want to contribute an idea for a workshop.

Our VISTA Gabriel has put together another fantastic College & Career newsletter, filled with resources for our students and graduates. This month’s newsletter features information on FAFSA & The Dream Act, Counselor Announcements, How to Navigate LinkedIn, Student Alumni Focus Group, and Scholarships. Click here to view the newsletter.


LA for Youth Campaign: March for Respect 2017Healing and Support:  Los Angeles leads the world in youth incarceration, including having the world’s largest juvenile halls, Probation camps (youth prisons), county jail system, Probation Department and Sheriffs Department.  LA County is also #1 in the US in deportation.  There is a great deal of trauma that young people and families suffer as a consequence.  LA for Youth Campaign is trying to prevent this trauma and create spaces where healing and support happens holistically and systemically. Love and Care:  Is investing on the front end for young people.  LA for youth is demonstrating love and care for all young people.  It is flooding communities that are in need with youth centers, youth jobs and peacebuilders.  Youth Centers are spaces that will meet young people where they are and treat them with respect, regardless of their past.  Peacebuilders understand where young people come from and can give them solid advice with love and care to help them make the best decision for themselves.  It is allowing young people to work for their financial needs and move towards financial independence.Leadership: Creating a campaign by Youth for Youth, young people are in leadership roles in every aspect of this event and campaign, including the Coordinating Committee.  LEADers from LEAD YouthBuild are organizing their neighborhood to march from Lincoln Heights and stop at Central Juvenile Hall.  The Youth Policy Committee at CRCD YouthBuild are organizing their neighborhood to leave from Trade Tech.  The students and youth organizers at the Youth Justice Coalition in Inglewood are planning the event and spearheading the march and campaign.Social Consciousness and Action: When young people combine their lived experiences with the facts – they see that the things that impacted their own lives have impacted so many others.  In collecting and learning shocking data – like 53% of the city’s budget goes to law enforcement – young people wanted to share this information and hit the streets to do something about it.  The Marching is beginning from multiple places and culminating at the steps of Los Angeles City Hall where young people will share their consciousness.Success:  Success for young people looks like winning the campaign and gaining careers within the campaign.  Success looks like a young person who can use their passions within the youth center – as a counselor, college and career advisor, dance instructor, running the music studio, teaching math or mediating conflict.  Success looks like peacebuilding between peers, family members, community members, neighborhoods and truly creating healthy public safety.Collaboration:  The LA for Youth Campaign is bringing young people and adult allies within the same organization together to speak out on the needs of youth.  It is bringing young people from across the city and county together to work together.  It is bringing organizations around the county together for a united effort.  There are over 100 endorsers of the campaign.

Resource for LGBTQ Students

In our current political climate, we want to go above and beyond to support all of our students, including those who are most marginalized. Colors is an LGBTQ youth counseling center and a specialization initiative of Antioch University. Their services are FREE, safe, and confidential, so check out the flyer below and share with students.

New Lost TAP Card Policy:
We have enacted a new policy around lost K-12 and College/Vocational TAP cards (permanent cards). Moving forward, if a student loses their permanent K-12 or College/Vocational TAP card, we will not allow them to use a regular blue card while they wait for their replacement card to arrive. The student will have to wait until their replacement card arrives, at which point we will start loading their replacement K-12 or College/Voc. card. We hope that this new policy will limit the increasing number of students reporting their TAP cards lost/stolen. Please communicate this new policy to any students at your site who have K-12 or College/Vocational TAP cards. We may consider exceptions to this policy in the case of extenuating circumstances (for homeless students, for example), but you should contact Emily S. if you need an exception for a student. Before giving your students their permanent cards, please be sure to remind them to keep them safe by storing them in a wallet. If a studentdoes report their card lost, please let them know that when we call to report the card lost to TAP, the card is immediately deactivated and the balance transferred to a new card, so they will not be able to use the card again, even if they find it.

Next TAP Card Application Drop-Off March 14th:
Emily will be taking the next batch of K-12 and College/Vocational TAP card applications to the Metro office on Tuesday, March 14th. Please mail, drop off or send an AP with any new applications by Friday, March 10th in order to have them ready for drop-off on the 14th. Emily will be going to Metro again in April. 

NBC4 Los Angeles Comes to Compton YouthBuild

Compton YouthBuild was recently featured on NBC4 Los Angeles. The story also featured Solar Gard, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain and the global leader in advanced film technologies for solar control and paint protection across the automotive, commercial and residential industries, who teamed up with Compton YouthBuild, to work alongside students to install Solar Gard protective film on windows at Compton YouthBuild to improve students’ learning experience. Solar Gard’s work with Compton YouthBuild offers students the opportunity to learn valuable work, team and leadership skills, and helps to fill a gap by providing in-demand job skills, training and motivation for young people without diplomas. Students will be exposed to world-class technology and a major multinational corporation – with Solar Gard being a brand of global glass and building technology pioneer, Saint-Gobain. You can check out the video here.

LA CAUSA Students Show Off Their Art

Students at LA CAUSA have been busy this trimester making some pretty cool art. Check out photos below:


Students creating abstract art with paint and balloons

Students making paper cranes at the Japanese American National Museum

LA CAUSA student Paola created these custom Vans

Palmdale Students Build HovercraftPalmdale Students Build Hovercraft

Students and staff from our Palmdale site at Antelope Valley YouthBuild conducted a test launch of a hovercraft earlier this week. Special thanks to students Jose Trejo and Manny Ramirez, along with construction trainers David Woodman and Aquilino Castro for putting this together. What a cool project!

YouthBuild Charter students launch hovercraft in Palmdale

Save AmeriCorps

There’s nothing more American than national service, but the AmeriCorps program may be threatened by upcoming budget cuts. According to a New York Times article published on 2/17, President Trump’s administration is likely proposing the elimination of AmeriCorps in his budget. The president’s budget will be released on March 13th, but ultimately, Congress will make final decisions on budget levels for various programs (with their budget changes submitted in October.) Therefore, it’s critical that we make our voices heard immediately.
Below are a few ways you can advocate for AmeriCorps:
1.) Email your representatives using this form:
2.) Call your representatives using this tool:
3.) Tweet your Representatives and Senators and tell them to save AmeriCorps. Draft tweets below:
A. @[Member of Congress Twitter Handle] please protect funding for critical national service programs like @AmeriCorps!
B. @[Member of Congress Twitter Handle] please save @Americorps funding and #letusserve!
4.) If you or your students/alumni are current or former AmeriCorps members or supervisors, write an Op-Ed sharing your story (send to YouthBuild USA for approval)A couple important reminders when advocating for AmeriCorps:
– YouthBuild USA asks that you please don’t tweet at the president or the White House, but just at your representatives.
– AmeriCorps members, volunteers, and grant-funded staff are prohibited from lobbying activities, organizing activities during AmeriCorps service hours or while wearing AmeriCorps apparel. Please keep an advocacy activities to personal time (out of uniform and off the clock).

Alumni Spotlight

Student Eddie Alberto Ochoa enrolled at our South LA campus in 2010, and is finally graduating in March 2017. We will be presenting Eddie with a special perseverance plaque for his determination and dedication to earning his diploma. Congratulations, Eddie!


Upcoming Events

LA 4 Youth March: 3/7, Marching to LA City Hall from South LA, Lincoln Heights, and Inglewood
Spring Break: 3/27 – 3/30, Teachers and Students Off
Cesar Chavez Day: 3/31, All Staff and Students Off

Spring PD:  4/3 – 4/7
CODEchella Week: 4/3 – 4/8, Students spend Monday – Friday learning how to code in HTML and CSS, CODEchella competition on Saturday from 8am – 8pm
YouthBuild Day: 4/25, more information TBA

The CURE (Communities Uncovering Real Education):  5/12 at the Audubon Center at Debs Park
State Testing: 5/1 – 5/12 – Please refer to the calendar in the Assessment & Accountability section of the newsletter for more information about when your site will have testing

Ongoing: WASC Focus Group Calls and Submission Deadlines -check w/ your co-chairs