Usually, my analysis and blog post on how Oakland students did on the standardized tests from the previous year (SBAC) comes a bit earlier, traditionally in August or September, but the California Department of Education (CDE) delayed their release this year until October. (Which is ridiculous given how they’re digital tests now and scored instantly. It’s unknown why it took so long this year; if anyone knows why, please let me know!)
The good news is that the data for 2018-19 school year just dropped last Wednesday (finally!) and you can check out results for individual schools on their website. Here’s a quick lowdown on some of the surface highlights I’ve gleaned so far:
- 5 YEARS. We now have 5 YEARS of solid data using the same testing system. By now, curriculum and teaching should be fully common core-aligned, and students have had ample time to adjust. 5 years is one of those milestone numbers because it means that there is now a reliable set of data to say, “Okay, we’ve given some initiatives enough time to implement and carry out – how did they do?”
So how DID Oakland did over past 5 years?
Figure 1. Overall citywide (all public schools located in Oakland serving Oakland students, regardless of authorizer) aggregated proficiency rates from 2014-2019 for ELA and Math. Source: CDE CAASPP Results
- Consistent growth overall citywide. It’s heartening to see that Oakland has steadily improved across the past 5 years, mirroring statewide trends of general improvement over time (+4% in ELA, +5% in Math), though not at the same rate as the statewide increases (+7% ELA, +7% Math).
- Bright spots for consistent increase in % proficient. Consistent sizable growth across multiple years is hard to maintain. For this blog, I’ll define consistent increase as consistent positive change in the percent of students proficient across all years, with minimum of +7% over the past 5 years (outpacing statewide rate of increase). Let’s celebrate and highlight some schools! Below is a list of the schools with consistent positive increases, year after year.
Figure 2. List of schools who made consistent gains from 2014-18 and outpaced statewide rate of increase in ELA and Math. Source: CDE CAASPP Results
Note: This is NOT a definitive list of all schools who made consistent increases in percent proficiency in Oakland over the past 5 years because we know that there are schools that are making gap-closing gains year after year, but this improvement is not captured by percent proficient because the students have not reached proficiency yet (more to come in another blog).
- Widening gap between Oakland and California. The citywide rate of change for Oakland (+4% in ELA, +5% in Math), while positive, is not as great as the statewide rate of change (+7% ELA, +7% Math), which means that there is a widening gap between Oakland and California, and that our students are not progressing quickly as the average Californian student.
- Racial and subgroup gaps persist. Asian and White students still have significantly higher test scores than Black and Latinx students, with approximately double the rate of proficiency in ELA and Math. Not new news given historical results, but I want to highlight it to emphasize and motivate our community’s work, focus, and commitment to focusing on those who need academic investment the most.
Figure 3. Oakland citywide proficiency rates for ethnic and major vulnerable subgroups for 2018-19. Source: CDE CAASPP Results, Ed78 analysis.
- The sheer quantity of students that are NOT proficient. I am one of the biggest cheerleaders for growth in schools, especially given how many students enter a classroom behind grade level and need to catch up. I applaud schools that accelerating students who are far below grade level, even when those students might not yet be “proficient” but are making gap-closing growth. But 36.2% of the tested students are reading at grade level. Students are tested only in 3rd-8th and 11th grade, which is about half of the students in Oakland. If we take this percentage as an approximation of the citywide reading proficiency level (54.2K students enrolled in Oakland in 18-19), we get the shocking estimate of 34K students that are NOT reading at grade level in Oakland.
Also, as a STEM grad and data geek, math is near and dear to my heart, and it absolutely kills me to know there are that many students – approx. 37.5K – that are not proficient in math in Oakland (using same process for estimating, with 29.6% of students proficient in Math in 18-19). Less than 1 out of every 3 kids is grade-level proficient in math! (!!!) This will make it harder for them to catch up, graduate, and access jobs in the STEM field, which is booming in Bay Area and critical for our future.
So much data, so many ways to cut it! Specifically, I’m interested in digging deeper on whether Oakland has been narrowing the racial achievement gap over time, and how this compares to statewide trends. I’m also curious if there are specific schools that are really moving students of a specific subgroup (English learners, Black students, etc.) into proficiency at rates that outpace Oakland’s and California’s. These would be great schools to learn from and celebrate for their hard work with our most historically (and currently) academically denied students. More to come, stay tuned!