On the last day of January 2019, with little fanfare and drowned out by the impending strikes over unacceptably low teacher pay, the California Department of Education published a list of schools that are eligible for additional support and funds from the state. It’s also the list of the lowest 5% of public schools in California as determined by the CA School Dashboard.
Thinking about quality
Oakland is over-represented on this list. Not surprisingly, I’ve received quite a few questions about the 5% list, especially as parents just last week had to confirm their enrollment choices for next year. The need for more quality schools is on everyone’s mind, so I’m here today to try to demystify and share some context.
Why publish this list at all?
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the latest reauthorization of federal K-12 education policy signed into law by former President Obama, requires that each state create clear criteria for identifying the lowest performing 5% of schools so that resources and efforts can best be deployed for improving student outcomes. After receiving feedback from US Department of Education during the ESSA state plan approval process, California chose to align the identification criteria around the CA School Dashboard, its current multi-measure accountability system for K-12 schools, inclusive of alternative schools starting Fall 2018.
CA School Dashboard Resources
Before we go too deep, let me share some resources on the CA School Dashboard. Check out the links for more useful information:
What are the criteria?
In California, the lowest 5% of schools are eligible for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI). If a school meets any of the following criteria on the CA School Dashboard, it will be identified as a CSI school: ·
Identification for CSI is based on “All Students” group for both traditional and alternative schools and occurs once every three years. When the CA School Dashboard is updated each fall, a school can “exit” the list if they no longer meet the specific criteria they were flagged for. For example, if School X (grades 6-12) was flagged for low graduation rates but has a high graduation rate average over the next two years, they would no longer be flagged. They can be re-flagged in the future for other reasons, like having majority red indicators or if their graduation rates decrease again.
How’s Oakland looking?
So…which of Oakland’s schools are on the list? Here is a table ordered alphabetically:
Source: EdSource Database: California’s lowest-performing schools in 2018-19
Some quick analysis:
Some grains of salt
Similar to the state’s roll-out of the chronic absence data for the first time in 2016-17, there’s going to be hiccups and imperfections whenever data is rolled out initially for a new metric.
So what’s next? Time to focus on quality.
There are different levels of support based on how a school is doing (from highest level of support to lowest):
Schools who qualify for CSI can submit improvement plans to California Department of Education to access state funds to support their improvement process. First disbursements recently went out to those with approved plans. As additional layer of support, county offices of education received extra funds to help support impacted LEAs with CSI schools (another way the Alameda County Office of Education is increasing its support to Oakland).
Locally, there are a lot of conversations, in offices and around dinner tables, about school closures and consolidations. (Data nerd here: I’ve been crunching historical closure data, and it’s a messy + sensitive topic. Curious if y’all are interested in seeing it?)
Instead, I hope this list along with other data can help drive more conversations around school quality. I’m more optimistic than ever we can get there, because this is the vision I consistently hear from OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. Also, with federal backing through ESSA, the state defining criteria for the list, and the county looking at differentiated support for these schools, we should all be able to align around a clear and fair definition of quality and invest in our schools to achieve it.
Additional links and data resources: