2016 Oakland Achieves Report: Opportunities For Mutual Learning
First-of-Its Kind Report Provides the Chance for District-Run and Charter Schools to Learn From One Another
For well over two decades, public charter schools have existed in Oakland — not just as an alternative for families, but as an opportunity to pilot ideas that can benefit students throughout the public schools. Yet that kind of learning has been made harder by the lack of common yardsticks that enable thoughtful comparison and study.
Today marks an important step to change that situation, with the release of the Fourth Annual Public Education Progress Report from the Oakland Achieves Partnership. The report, which was also covered in an article by the East Bay Times, is the first to include comparable data from all public schools, district-run and charter — and it makes clear that the learning needs to go both ways, as both charter and district schools demonstrate strengths and needs for growth.
There are limitations to this first year of comparable data. Most of the data come from the 2014-15 school year, and there are gaps in the data charter schools were able to collect and provide. Yet there’s already plenty to kick off important conversations. It’s a vital step in providing our our community easy and timely access to the same data for all public schools, and instigating community dialogue and learning throughout our public schools.
Oakland has made great strides in improving our schools. Our graduation rates are up, our suspension rates are down, and more students are graduating from high school better prepared for college and beyond. The progress is significant, but it is not fast enough. Proficiency and graduation rates remain way too low. It’s urgent for us understand what is working and work together.
However, to be clear, the data contained in this report is likely, and should, raise more questions than answers. High-level data is a starting point that can help direct our questions and learning. But, we need to be careful not to make deep assumptions about what the data is telling us.
“We can start to explore why charter schools have a higher percentage (93%) of students graduating with the necessary course credit needed to enroll in a state university – as compared to 56 percent for district students. Or, we can examine how district-run schools drastically reduced their out-of-school suspension rates, particularly for African American and Latino students. District suspension rates for African American and Latino students stands at 8 and 2 percent, respectively, as compared to 11 and 5 percent for charter schools.”
We can start to explore why charter schools have a higher percentage (93%) of students graduating with the necessary course credit needed to enroll in a state university – as compared to 56 percent for district students. Or, we can examine how district-run schools drastically reduced their out-of-school suspension rates, particularly for African American and Latino students. District suspension rates for African American and Latino students stands at 8 and 2 percent, respectively, as compared to 11 and 5 percent for charter schools.
And while we have seen some progress across the city, we are still seeing unacceptable outcomes within many indicators:
For every 100 students in Oakland public schools:
- 43 citywide were ready for kindergarten;
- 19 third-graders in charters and 30 in district-run schools met or exceeded standards in English;
- 41 middle-schoolers in charters and 19 in district-run schools met or exceeded standards in Math;
- 87 high school students in charters and 76 in comparable district-run schools graduated on time.
We know that we can and must do better and learn from one another in order to effect stronger student outcomes.
Data for the public charter schools has been difficult to access as it is not housed in a central database. For this report, the partnership worked with each charter to gather the same data that has been available from the district since we published the first report. Charters were open and willing to share the data. There are gaps or missing data in the report (explanation can be found on page 6 of the report), but we are working to improve future editions of the report.
We hope the new report sparks more questions about ways we all can learn from each other, and use it to provide the high-quality public education our students deserve.