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Home / Blog / CRUNCHED: Becoming (More) Data-Informed Around Cohort 2 Schools

CRUNCHED: Becoming (More) Data-Informed Around Cohort 2 Schools

CRUNCHED!, OUSD      September, 2019     

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.


Deep Dives into Individual Schools

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.

    • Peralta is very much a “neighborhood school” where 80% of students come from the attendance area. Likewise, Sankofa also draws heavily from the assigned and neighboring attendance zone. Glenview, though relocated to Santa Fe, still has over half its students from the original Glenview area (in Central Oakland). Kaiser, however, is NOT a “neighborhood school” because so few school-aged children live in that neighborhood. In fact, many Kaiser students actually live in the Sankofa neighborhood.
    • The four school options are all within a 4-mile radius of each other (though Peralta and Sankofa are closest to each other, less than a half mile away) . Using Google Maps, I estimated the walk time between the schools (not accounting for the major roads families may need to cross):

    • Regarding demand, based on 18-19 data, both Sankofa and Kaiser had <100% demand rates. (See below section on demand rates across elementary schools citywide for reference.)

Figure 2. Table comparing demand rates at Sankofa, Peralta, Kaiser, and Glenview based on 18-19 demographic data.

    • There are proficiency gaps between White and African American students at Peralta, Glenview, and Kaiser sites. Given the majority black students at Sankofa, I hope that the merger process will yield a redesign at the final site that will close the racial outcome gap over time.

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.

    • In the process of redesigning for a new demographic combination at the final site, there will need to be intention also around students with IEPs and socioeconomically disadvantaged students, in addition to the racial differences between Sankofa and the other 3 sites.

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

    • MLA is one of the few schools in the city to have received 3 consecutive years of CORE high impact awards, which means that their students are making growth at rates that are closing the proficiency gap
    • All three sites have new school leaders, notably due to the departure of founding leaders at 2 of the sites (MLA, which was led by OUSD’s longest serving principal, and SOL, which was led by the previous founder of Manzanita SEED). *
    • Demand varies great across the 3 sites: MLA 141%, Frick 72%, and SOL 56% in 18-19.
    • Using Google Maps, I estimated the walk time between the schools (not accounting for the major roads families may need to cross):

    • Subgroup make-ups at each of the 3 schools overlap and differ: MLA + SOL have similar % students with IEPs while Frick + SOL have similar % of students who qualify for free/reduced lunch and Frick + MLA have similar % of students who are English learners.

Figure 5. Table comparing %SPED and %FRL students at Frick, SOL, and MLA based on 18-19 demographic data

  • Redesign: Fruitvale

    • Was flagged as one of the CA Dashboard Lowest 5% schools in 2017-18 but posted some strong growth in 18-19 (see slide 29 of OUSD presentation).
    • The OUSD presentation notes that there will need to be a financial investment to support the design year; this feels important given the unusually high need population of this school (89% FRPL, 52% ELL, 21% SPED).
    • School racial make-up is very diverse (50% Latinx, 24% African American 12% Asian, 4% White) and more closely reflects the citywide student demographics than many schools.
    • Enrollment has been declining (and nowhere near historical max), and demand is low (25% in 18-19).
    • Despite African American students making up <25% of the student population, they make up majority of students suspended in previous years.

Citywide Context 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.


Demand Rates

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.


What’s next?

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.


Updates, insights into our perspective, and highlights from our work!