At an Urban L.A. School, Nature Grows — and So Do Test Scores

At an Urban L.A. School, Nature Grows — and So Do Test Scores
Biological diversity does not come easily near the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Hoover Street.

The neighborhood just west of downtown is one of the most crowded in Los Angeles County, with 25,352 people per square mile. It's chock-full of buildings and has lots of pavement, little landscaping and many economically disadvantaged families.

In that setting, Leo Politi Elementary School wanted only to make a dreary corner of campus more inviting to its 817 students. Workers ripped out 5,000 square feet of concrete and Bermuda grass three years ago and planted native flora.

What happened next was unforeseen. It was remarkable.

The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their test sco…
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