Recently OUSD staff submitted a recommendation to the Board around potential schools for the second cohort of the Blueprint planning process, looking at district-run schools they think would be a good fit for mergers, expansions, and redesign.
Before we get started, I’d like to throw out major appreciation and kudos to Superintendent Johnson-Trammell, the OUSD team that researched the proposal, and the Board for sticking to their commitment to engage in hard decisions around schools to try to improve both student achievement and district financials. By engaging in this Blueprint process – regardless of the outcome – they’re not kicking the can down the road. I appreciate the bravery to take the harder road of facing this head-on. Like the Superintendent noted in her recent blog, I too was a student in OUSD, and so many of us are familiar with the changes needed but not always made.
I don’t have answers around what the “right” decisions are (leaving that to the Board. You got this, Board!) and which merger scenario would be optimal. What I do have is knowledge of public data available, so this blog post is dedicated to the data that I’ve pulled. I hope you all find this useful towards making data informed decisions in conjunction with the data from the OUSD presentation. I’ve broken it down into two sections: data summaries (with highlights) around the individual schools and data that provides some citywide context.
Using all publicly available data (saving you some time 😉), I’ve created data summaries for each school. They’re formatted with printing in mind, so feel free to print and distribute as you please. I’m trying to do my part by making data as accessible as I know how. Huge shout-out to the OUSD RAD (Research, Assessment, and Data) team for creating all these dashboards and making them publicly available and transparent.
Here is a link to the folder with the individual school data summaries. Download away!
Some observations I had around schools in each proposed move:
North Oakland: Kaiser/Sankofa/Peralta/Glenview at Santa Fe
Figure 1. Live/Go data for where Kaiser, Peralta, Sankofa, and Glenview students live in the city.
Figure 2. Table comparing demand rates at Sankofa, Peralta, Kaiser, and Glenview based on 18-19 demographic data.
Figure 3. ELA proficiency comparisons between White and African American students at Glenview, Kaiser, and Peralta based on 2018-19 SBAC results. Courtesy OUSD SBAC Dashboard.
Figure 4. Table comparing %SPED and %FRL students at Sankofa, Peralta, Kaiser, and Glenview based on 18-19 demographic data.
East Oakland: Frick/SOL/MLA
Figure 5. Table comparing %SPED and %FRL students at Frick, SOL, and MLA based on 18-19 demographic data
Figure 6. Distribution of district-run schools by total students enrolled in 18-19, excluding schools with alternative status and big high schools (Skyline, Oakland High, Oakland Tech). (Link to Dashboard)
Looking at past and potential blueprint schools, all schools are below the average school size in Oakland, i.e. they’re on the tail end of school size enrollment. (With the exception of MLA, which is good because OUSD wants to expand their program.) Recall that school size matters because schools need to have certain enrollment in order to be sustainably sized and not be subsidized in order to operate. Some of the schools are far below the sustainable threshold size.
Figure 7. Demand rates for district-run elementary schools and middle schools (2018-19) sectioned by SRA regions
Demand rates are calculated based on how many families choose School X as their first choice on their enrollment applications, divided by the number of seats available. If School X had a demand rate of 200%, it meant there were twice as many families that wanted School X to be their child’s first choice school than there were seats available. You’ll see that majority of the past and potential elementary schools had lower than average (71%) demand, which is less than the ideal 100% demand. All middle schools, past and potential, have been under the average demand rate for middle schools.
Figure 8. Map of Oakland schools citywide with potential cohort 2 sites highlighted
Figure 9. Zooming in on potential cohort 2 sites in East Oakland
OUSD is focusing their cohort 2 efforts on two regions: Northwest Oakland and East Oakland, specifically from Havenscourt to Maxwell Park. With Northwest Oakland, there are less school options so it’s easier to visualize the potential impact on neighboring schools (see slide 12 of OUSD presentation). However, East Oakland is a very dense area in both student population and school options (see Figure 9), and it will be harder to easily visualize the impact certain moves will have on neighboring schools. That said, Havenscourt has been a historical site of breaking schools into smaller units and now bringing them back together again.
There are a lot of factors to consider in making these decisions: quality, equity, geographic balance, facilities/land use, and financial. And as much as I love data, I know there are also important factors that don’t show up in the form of numbers – perceptions, values, personal experiences. And there probably are factors that can’t be discussed publicly but are important considerations, like personnel and individual student needs. In balancing these factors, I hope that the Board keeps our most vulnerable students at the center of these decisions, and that everyone in the community also puts our most vulnerable students first in how everything is handled after the decision.
At the end of the day, now that the staff has submitted their recommendation, it’s going to take brave decision-making from the Board. Once more: You got this, Board! I hope these data summaries and extra data will help everyone with digging deeper to make sure they’re making the right (and definitely difficult) decisions.
*Full disclosure: Both previous leaders of MLA and SOL were fellows through the Educate78 School Design Lab program to support the innovate design and redesign of schools to address community needs like more language programs. Both MLA and SOL has received funding from Educate78 previously.