Despite failing every class — or because of it — Rebbeca Avelino, a 14-year-old eighth grader, wanted time off from school during spring break. But history teacher Lorraine Escalante pressed her to attend two “acceleration days” in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“She knew that I was doing bad,” Rebbeca said. “And she wanted to encourage me and she’s like: ‘You could do it. Don’t let anybody stop you. You can do it. You can reach those goals if you try, and you should come.’”

Rebbeca became part of an expensive, massive and controversial experiment in the nation’s second-largest school system — a key initiative, made possible by COVID-relief money, to fill gaps in student learning exacerbated by the pandemic. The money has to be spent by September 2024. Click here to read more: