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New rankings for Oakland schools

Yesterday was so hectic that I neglected to post a link to the new statewide and similar schools rankings. You can find a list of all schools in Alameda County and their API ranks, from 1 to 10, here.

Here’s a (hopefully) functional, but not very pretty spreadsheet that breaks out the data for Oakland schools. There are several tabs — some are sorted by school name, ranking, and/or type of school and ranking.

You can find an explanation of the two kinds of rankings in this story.

Do the statewide and/or the similar schools rankings matter to you?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Sue

    It’s mildly interesting, since the scores are fairly consistent with what I know about our neighborhood schools vs the schools we chose for our sons. Neighborhood elementary score is five, and it’s come up since we decided nine years ago to pull our then-kindergartener out of there. The elementary school he did attend for six years, score is six. It’s been static for a few years, but it’s still a good solid school, and I’ve recommended it to neighbors with preschoolers.

    Similar pattern for our neighborhood middle school compared to the middle school that both sons attended. Younger son will be finishing 8th grade next month at Montera, and it’s scores are 8 and 9.

    High school – for older son, now a college freshman, there weren’t any choices. He was in a Spec Ed program for autism spectrum students and the program was only at Skyline, our neighborhood high school. Obviously, it worked out well for him.

    Younger son will be starting at Skyline in the fall. We looked at Oakland Tech as well, but they seemed pretty similar to us. Both have computer/technology academies, which is what younger sons wants. So, we picked Skyline because it is our neighborhood school, and because our son’s friends were pretty much all going to Skyline as well, and he wanted to stay with his friends.

    The scores seem to me to give a general idea of what to expect, but knowing individuals at the schools, and having a kid (or friend / neighbor’s kid) attending a schools will give a much better idea of whether or not a particular school will be good for your kid.

    These scores are just one tool – and we all know the cliche, “when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” We need more, different, and better tools. And we need to not depend too much on this one.

  • Cliff Hong

    Can we see data over five years, to see which schools have improved their API and state rankings over time? Then we can study them to see what led to that growth.

  • Can’t believe it

    It matters at our school (6/10) as both our feeder middle schools are ranked much lower (4/3) so it shows our programs are effective and our staff is working smart ( notice I didn’t say hard, because many teachers work hard). In addition our top ranking when compared to similar schools was the highest in our District and shows the teaching staff is meeting the needs of our population- especially since all our MANY subgroups met or exceeded their goals. Undoubtedly there are individual areas of brilliance in Oakland, but let’s face it, the scores are embarrassingly low at the high school level for all the major high schools. What’s up with my Alma mater, Skyline? Do they simply fail to test enough of their subgroups in the hope that no one will ever know their scores?

  • Nextset

    The reason the high school scores are lower is that is where the (dull) students reach the limits of their cognitive abilities. While some students are college material, most are not. This is why the Liberals constantly are showing us “improvements” in 3rd and 4th graders – that’s where the “differences” are least glaring.

    My point is that treating all students alike does maximum harm in high school and least harm in 3rd grade. OUSD – if they were serious – would have the students segregating by 8th grade into separate campuses for college prep, vocational ed/technical and other. If you do that you have the distinct populations concentrating on their future instead of acting out in order to maintain “face” in front of the other groups. In other words, you’d have less vandalism, less threats on teachers and vulgarity. Like in 1960.

    Throwing all the students into a one-size-fits-all pot engenders counter-productive behavior. And Frustrated Teachers. If also ensures white flight followed closely by bright black flight and every other flight of those that don’t want to stick around for the madness.

    if your school district is more homogenous you can get away with the large campus, on-size-fits-all. If you have a “diverse” population, you can’t. Same thing goes with prisons.

    OUSD doesn’t get it and they will persist with these policies until there is nothing left of their schools academically or vocationally. In comes the Charters.

    These stats and the racially scored stats are very useful which is why someone got them legislated. Smart money will use these stats faster than proles. Real Estate Agents, for example. Piedmont Real Estate, anyone?

    Brave New World.

  • Gordon Danning

    Why are the high school scores lower than the middle school scores? I’m guessing it is in part because there are fewer white kids in high schools.

  • teacher

    Can’t Believe It…Skyline has no API because one teacher allegedly let students use textbooks during the exam, nullifying the CST scores, which make-up most of the API.

  • Mary Hill

    @Can’t Believe It: If you are referring to Lighthouse Community Charter High, I’d appreciate it if you would share with us what kind of resources you have for your students, what your class sizes are, and a brief description of your successful programs. Also, since this is a charter school, am I correct to assume that there is funding beyond that which the state provides?

    It is important to disclose such information in order not to mislead the public into thinking that the only difference in schools’ success is whether the educators “work smart.”

  • Steven Weinberg

    When comparing high school scores to middle and elementary scores a change in demographics in Oakland may play a part, but it is important to note that the drop in scores is statewide. Given the way the CSTs are constructed and the way scoring was established (based on a norming group in a given year), it is probable that some tests ended up being easier than others. If everything you measure comes up short, maybe the problem is with your ruler.

  • Nextset

    Here’s a very interesting New York Times article about High School Enrollment in New York City.

    It appears that students have to go through a competitive bid process to be placed at a high school. The computer software used to place students is apparently similar to placing medical residents.

    Is this a form or matching students to the various academic programs to prevent dull students from taking down the system as a whole?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/nyregion/in-applying-for-high-school-some-8th-graders-find-a-maze.html

    It would be interesting for CA districts to follow suit.

    Brave New World.

  • Charter Schools

    Where is OCA? Where are the charter schools?

  • Can’t believe it

    Mary- that’s Encinal HS in Alameda with about 150 Oakland and out of district kids among the1100. there are no extra funds. we do have an open enrollment AP program, Honors classes and support classes, plus many subgroups, including 27% african american students, all of which made their target goals. that is why we are rated a 10 when compared to high schools with similar demographics. Let’s not forget the championship football team…

    and Teacher that is shocking considering you are required to sign an affidavit about the exam that you took the training or know the rules. That teacher should be dismissed or the administrator in charge should be removed. but does Skyline ever report it’s scores?

  • Mary Hill

    @Can’t Believe It–Sorry for assuming you were referring to an Oakland school. Thanks for adding more details. I notice you mention “support classes” which I assume (there I go again) would be primarily for students who need extra academic or English language support. Could you write a little more about what that entails?

    Unfortunately, in Oakland, resources to help struggling students have decreased drastically over the years. I’m an elementary teacher, but I’m sure this has equally affected secondary schools. For example, my only resource for helping struggling students (besides peer tutors and myself) is a parent volunteer who works with students on specific skills a few hours per week. This is not enough help for students who enter a class with serious deficits–and sometimes with serious emotional/behavioral problems as well.

  • teacher

    Can’t Believe It: It’s my understanding the teacher is no longer teaching. The principal at Skyline has changed every year for five years, so the principal who was overseeing testing last year is not there any more anyway. And, yes, the school has reported its scores every year. Just go here to see the ones from 2009, the last set that were valid: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/AcntRpt2010/2009BaseSch.aspx?allcds=01612590137943

  • Can’t believe it

    Mary- we had an AVID program for years but then lost funding but our two AP support classes offer a combination AVID, tutoring, study hall and counseling support for students new to AP along with a few college field trips. Students are closely monitored by experienced and enthusiastic teachers and individually counseled by someone assigned just to that program. Believe me, we needed the recent parcel tax to pass to keep these classes, but they add immeasurably to closing the gap. it is not magical, however, as one of the issues we must face is undoing years of academic neglect, no matter how intelligent the student may be. This is where I differ from Nextset and his comments. Each student has potential, but he/she can get used to low standards, and the smartest kids can learn to do little or nothing and get by, or even have their self- esteem drop when no one expects anything from them. In my humble opinion this is 1/2 of the kids who are in academic trouble. It is not enough to say Si se puede, you have to give constant support and encouragement.

  • Katy Murphy

    They’re on there. Check the alpha list. The state classifies many of them — including OCA — as “small” schools, rather than “middle” or “high.”

  • livegreen

    CBI, re#3, it could also be that other HS’s in the State have a bigger dropout rate of good students, while Encinal maintains them or (even) that MS students return in High School. Or some combination of this with good programs.

  • Catherine

    Steven: I see that we look at Oakland as the gauge, but if you look at Dublin and Livermore the high school scores are higher than the middle school scores. Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro and Hayward all have dramatic drops, but other districts in which most of the students continue on from middle to high school in public school (compare general numbers of all elementary, middle and high schools to gauge) the drop is about 50 points from the average high school numbers.

    What I wish we could see in our numbers are the scores of those students who had high (at least proficient, but mostly advanced) scores in elementary school and compare them to middle school and then high school.

    Children who read, and read well and often with a variety of materials and genres will test better than those who don’t read well. A recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation followed students from the end of third grade through high school. You can predict with almost 100% accuracy those students who will score well by how well they read at the end of third grade.

    I agree with Gordon in that many, many of our students who scored well in elementary school left before middle school and the vast majority of students who scored well in middle school left before high school. What I also wish is that the Oakland Tech numbers would break out academy students. It would be frightening because I believe the academy students are scoring in the 800s and 900s which means that the remaining students are scoring even lower than the dismally low scores represented in the chart.

  • wdcrachel

    Catherine’s point about Oakland Tech seems very true. I was really surprised by how low the numbers were. I don’t know what percentage of students are in Paideia (sp?) but I would think their scores are quite high.

  • Nextset

    One of the things I wonder after reading some of the above postings: Is OUSD just teaching basket weaving? Is the reason for the decline at the HS level the departure of the bright students after primary grade for better schools – or is it the dumbing down process used by OUSD (if that’s what it is – I never go there).

    I do know that their products’ reputation as undesirables – that’s old news. I have not heard of anything OUSD does as an institution to make it’s products more desirable to industry, military or higher learning (Merritt Nursing School, etc). Can somebody post info on how OUSD improves (trys to improve) it’s students deportment and merchantability as the students move through grades 10-12? Average students please, not just the AP and University bound people.

    Some good news would be nice.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Catherine, I just checked Dublin’s scores on the state website and they show a similar drop in 11th grade English to the drop in Oakland: almost a doubling of Far Below Basic scores and a drop in advanced scores. The test for 11th grade English is clearly a contributing factor in the drop in scores. High school testing is so confused with students taking many different tests that I cannot compare other subjects.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Catherine, I did a little more research. Dublin’s high school API is lower than its elementary school average. Its one middle school has a lower API than the high school, but one of its highest scoring elementary schools keeps its seventh and eighth graders, so that lowers the middle school’s average.
    Inner city or suburb, the CST tests are not a fair gauge of progress between grade levels.