Graduation and dropout rates for the Class of 2011

The four-year graduation rate in Oakland Unified rose about four points in the latest estimate released today by the California Department of Education. About 59 percent of students who started high school in 2007 graduated with their classmates in 2011. About 28 percent dropped out, and 12 percent were still enrolled in school when the data were collected.

Some Oakland high schools had dropout rates in the 40s. Life Academy and Metwest lost the lowest percentage of students among OUSD schools, though their dropout rates were still higher than 10 percent. Charter schools are listed separately; you have to call each of them up individually to see how they did.

This is the second year the state has followed a cohort of students — each, with a unique ID — through four years of high school to get what is supposed to be the most reliable estimate yet.

The above link takes you to the rates by ethnicity. Go here (or read the summary below) to see rates for English learners, special education students and low-income students.

To find stats for other districts, schools or counties, go to the CDE’s DataQuest page and click “dropouts” from the drop-down menu, along with the level you’re looking for.


African American students: 55.1 percent graduation rate, 30.8 percent dropout rate, and 12.7 percent still enrolled.

Latino students: 51.8 percent graduation rate, 30 percent dropout rate, and 16.6 percent still enrolled.

White students: 72.7 percent graduation rate, 23.1 percent dropout rate and 3.5 percent still enrolled.

Asian students: 78.5 percent graduation rate, 15.1 percent dropout rate and 5.1 percent still enrolled.

English learners: 40.8 percent graduation rate, 36.6 percent dropout rate, 12.2 percent still enrolled.

Special education students: 39.4 percent graduation rate, 33.7 percent dropout rate, 18.3 percent still enrolled.

Low-income students: 58.6 percent graduation rate, 26.9 percent dropout rate, 9.2 percent still enrolled.


Mission accomplished? OUSD’s structural deficit, closure savings and other budget questions

This spring, Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith heralded the elimination of a $40 million structural deficit that he had inherited when he came to OUSD in 2009. Soon thereafter, his financial services team discovered a multimillion-dollar shortfall, which was followed by major reductions in the proposed special education budget for 2012-13 and other adjustments.

Then, last Friday, the administration made the deficit-eradication claim once again. A public statement about the Lakeview Elementary School sit-in, which is now in its second week, said that the closure of Lakeview and other elementary schools had allowed the district to “eliminate a $40 million structural deficit…”

If you look at Slide #23 in the budget presentation (second-to-last link), and your eyes automatically run to the highlighted green line, that sure looks to be the case: You see a $665,071 surplus. But scan a bit further down and you’ll find a different number — a structural deficit of $10.28 million. Continue Reading


An Oakland parent on OUSD’s special education proposal

Stacey Smith is an Oakland school district parent and volunteer who has served on the District GATE Advisory Committee, the school board’s Special Committee on School Based Management, and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. I invited her to contribute periodically to The Education Report; any topic she writes about — including the below piece – does not reflect the view of any group. — Katy

I’m trying to understand the June 12 memo from outgoing Special Education Director Sharon Casanares to Oakland school district program specialists that eliminates their jobs as of June 29 and lays out over $4 million dollars of staffing and program cuts for special education in Oakland — cuts that may severely impact the support special education teachers and over 5,000 special education students receive.

According to the memo, personnel costs make up the bulk of the department’s budget so the majority of reductions are in that area. The number one criterion used to make cuts was to “make changes that will have the least impact on students in classrooms.” Substantial cuts are proposed in several key areas: Continue Reading


Wednesday: Researchers, Oakland district staff, to discuss the recent reports on black male achievement

An earlier thread about African American male achievement elicited some thoughtful comments and ideas. Want to learn more about what the district is doing in response to this data, or to share your ideas with the researchers and the head of OUSD’s black male achievement office, Chris Chatmon?

Urban Strategies Council is hosting an hour-long webinar on the subject at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday). You can register here.


New rankings for California’s public schools

Wonder how your school’s 2011 composite test score (a.k.a. API) measures up to those of other schools in the state, or to schools with similar demographics and challenges?

The California Department of Education released the new statewide and “similar schools” rankings today — based on tests taken more than a year ago, not this past spring.

Our data man, Danny Willis, has created this API rankings database, searchable by district and county.


State auditors find misappropriation of funds, evidence of fraud and conflict of interest by charter school director

photo by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group staff

There’s much to say about this report, but it’s been a long day, and the school board meeting is still going on. So for now, what I have for you is a link to the Tribune story about the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team’s final report on alleged financial abuses by American Indian Model schools’ founder, Ben Chavis.

The case is being forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for review.

Sheila Jordan, Alameda County’s superintendent, has recommended that the Oakland school board “continue to assess the viability of the schools in question.”



Another facilities bond measure for Oakland schools?

Should the Oakland school district float a $475 million facilities bond measure in the November election? The Oakland school board might decide to do so on Wednesday night.

Here’s the short version of the possible ballot language that the school board will consider. Unlike a parcel tax, it would need just 55 percent of the vote to pass:

To repair, replace or construct restrooms, old plumbing, sewers, lighting, heating, portable classrooms, electrical systems, roofs, to address dry rot, and to bring existing buildings up to current safety standards; upgrade technology, science and computer labs; renovate,construct and equip classrooms; and improve energy efficiency; shall the Oakland Unified School District issue $475 million in bonds, with independent citizen oversight, no money for pensions or benefits, and all money for Oakland public schools.

That shortened version doesn’t mention community kitchens, though those are part of the project list in the full measure.

Here are the specific schools and campuses mentioned in the draft: Continue Reading


Time to focus more on student achievement for students with disabilities?

Stacey Smith is an Oakland school district parent and volunteer who has served on the District GATE Advisory Committee, the school board’s Special Committee on School Based Management, and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. I invited her to contribute periodically to The Education Report, and she wanted me to emphasize that any topic she writes about — including the below piece —  is just what she finds worth sharing and does not reflect the view of any group. — Katy

Students with disabilities are currently among the lowest achieving students in the Oakland Unified School District. Between 2005 and 2010, the achievement gap between the general population and students with disabilities — who make up over 10 percent of the student population — has persisted or widened in English, math and science.

Less than half of the district’s special education students graduate even with an exemption from the California High School Exit Exam, which students with disabilities are not required to pass if they meet other diploma requirements.

The low graduation rate is even more sobering when you consider the dropout rate for students with disabilities. In 2009-10 Oakland reported a whopping 53.3 percent of students “exited” special education because they dropped out during or after ninth grade. Between 2006 and 2010 the majority of those special education students dropping out were African-American or Latino. It’s harder to track students with disabilities who are not in special education because of the limited reporting requirements.

OUSD’s new strategic plan highlights the disparities in student performance but I’ve heard many parents and guardians express concern that they do not see specifics about how the district plans to change outcomes. One parent I spoke to, who asked not to be identified, explained how frustrating it can be when high standards for achievement are not a main focus:

Continue Reading


Attention education experts! Why do so many kids graduate with poor reading and math skills?

27/365We’ve all seen the reports on college-level remediation — the high numbers of kids who graduate from high school and are admitted to college with low reading comprehension and math skills. Here, you’ll find the CSU freshman proficiency rates for 2010.

One of my colleagues wants to explore some of the reasons behind this phenomenon. You’d think I would have a clear idea, after covering k-12 for so long, but I’m afraid to say that I don’t.

That’s where you come in — the people who teach kids how to read and/or solve mathematical problems, who supervise or coach those who do, or parents who watch the system closely. As you look at the system from pre-k through high school, where do you see the breakdowns happening, and what are the fixes?

As my colleague asked in his query to his fellow reporters:

Are young kids simply not learning to read? Or does a lack of parental involvement cripple that learning? Is there something later in their education – junior high or high school – that is causing problems? And why are these kids graduating in the first place?

Lastly, what questions would you ask about this issue?

photo from Kelly Schott’s photostream at Flickr.com/creativecommons


Boundary change fallout at Crocker Highlands

The Oakland school district might study its school attendance boundaries again next year, if the school board approves such a proposal next fall — but the new lines wouldn’t be drawn before the 2013-14 school year, David Montes de Oca, director of OUSD’s Quality Community Schools Development, told dozens of concerned parents yesterday evening at Crocker Highlands Elementary.

At issue, at least most urgently, is Crocker Highlands, which expanded to include some of the area that until now has belonged to nearby Lakeview Elementary School. When Lakeview closes this month, four schools will incorporate its attenance zone: Crocker, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Piedmont Avenue.

Crocker is one of the district’s most sought-after schools; its kindergarten was filling up with neighborhood kids even before the school’s boundaries expanded for the upcoming school year. As a result of the changes, parents say, 18 families who live in the neighborhood were initially denied seats; some were later placed, but the school district has yet to provide the numbers. Now, some parents in the original Crocker boundary area have circulated a petition calling on district leaders to reconsider that adjustment.

Crocker is adding a fourth kindergarten class this year, though that’s considered a one-time “bubble” solution. (Note: I’ve requested information from OUSD for months now about the number of neighborhood kids denied seats at Crocker and other schools; my polite pestering has yet to yield the answers. Still, Montes de Oca vowed to parents he would “push out” such data to the public to help inform their decision-making.)

As I sat in the meeting, it reminded me of a similar gathering at Hillcrest Elementary five years ago. It’s been awhile since I’ve written about parent angst, frustration and confusion over OUSD’s School Options program — specifically, schools with a higher demand among neighborhood families than available kindergarten seats.

For those of you who aren’t already all too familiar with the Options process: In Oakland Unified, families fill out their top school choices by mid-January and receive assignments based on a set of priorities that the school board revised in 2008. Basically: 1) kids with older siblings attending the school, regardless of where they live; 2) kids in the neighborhood without an older brother or sister at the school, selected at random; 3) kids who live near low-performing (Program Improvement) schools; 4) general lottery of all others interested in attending the school.

Families can appeal their placement and be put on a waiting list.

Here are some interesting things I learned at the meeting: Continue Reading