2012 STAR test scores for California

The results of 2012 Testing Season are here. They show, grade-level by grade-level and exam by exam, the levels at which students tested this spring: advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, or far below basic.

You’ll find a short story here. On that same page is a database that will let you find your school’s scores and a chart with Alameda County school districts’ results in reading, math, history and science.

In a few weeks, the Academic Performance Index (API)  scores come out, largely based on the numbers reported today.

OUSD’s data department has compiled a dizzying array of spreadsheets, as well as a document from the communications office that highlights the positive notes.

The percentage of Oakland Unified students testing at “proficient” or “advanced” levels remained flat in reading and math (up 1 percentage point in reading, to 45 percent and flat in math, at 45 percent), dipped by two points in history and rose three points in science.

In the document below, OUSD highlighted the positive trends at some schools.


OUSD’s test score highlights


Judge’s order on Spearman’s injunction petition

Staff PhotojournalistJames Harris - Headshot (hi-res)

James Harris’s name will be printed on the November ballot, as planned. Below is the judge’s ruling from this morning, denying the injunction sought by his opponent, incumbent Alice Spearman. Still, Spearman — who says Harris shouldn’t be allowed to run for school board in Oakland because he lives in the San Leandro school district — says it’s not over. Her attorney, Marc Guillory, says a hearing been set for Oct. 3.

Spearman’s hope this morning, she said, was to delay the printing of the ballots until the matter of her opponent’s eligibility could be resolved. Although Harris lives in Oakland City Council District 7, his neighborhood, Sheffield Village, that apparently separated itself from the Oakland school district in the 1960s. Harris said children in his development have the option of attending San Leandro and Oakland schools. He enrolled at least one of his children at Burckhalter this year.

“There’s mountains of evidence that he’s in the San Leandro Unified School District,” she said.

That might not be enough to disqualify him. In his ruling, the judge wrote:

Applicant has not submitted admissible evidence conclusively demonstrating that James Harris’s residence is in the San Leandro School District. Even if it were, it is unclear whether the fact would render him legally ineligible to run for Oakland School Board Director for District 7 given the text of the City Charter.


The judge noted that Article 4, Section 404 states that the school district boundaries are the same as the city council district boundaries.

Ruling denying injunction


Spearman’s campaign challenges opponent’s residency

Staff PhotojournalistJames Harris - Headshot (hi-res)

FRIDAY UPDATE #2: Alice Spearman said the judge said he needed more information to determine whether Harris lived in OUSD, and that there would be a full hearing in about a month (She plans to file a motion for one). “It ain’t over,” she said. “The man lives in a part of town that is part of San Leandro Unified.”

FRIDAY UPDATE: James Harris remains a certified candidate for the District 7 seat. An email Harris sent me this afternoon read: “The judge denied Ms. Spearman’s ex parte application to decertify me as a candidate. I look forward to turning our full focus back towards mounting a vigorous campaign.”

Alice Spearman‘s re-election campaign for Oakland school board (District 7) has challenged whether James Harris, her opponent, has met the residency requirements to run in the November election.

Harris lives in Sheffield Village with an Oakland address. He pays Oakland property taxes, and is in Oakland City Council District 7. He has a kid at Burckhalter. But for a reason I don’t understand, he and his neighbors vote for San Leandro school board. There’s a hearing tomorrow morning; I’ll keep you posted.

Anyone have history on this neighborhood?

View Larger Map


Your back-to-school pictures, commentary

Class lists at Burckhalter Elementary
photo by Laura A. Oda/Oakland Tribune

I used Storify for the first time yesterday, compiling public tweets and photos that people had posted (mostly, those with the hashtag #oaklandschools) on Twitter and Facebook, as well as our first-day coverage. Thanks to all who responded to our call for stories!

You can find the final product here.

Now that I’m hooked on Storify and see how easy it is to use, I’m thinking of the next project — an educational issue or event that people will naturally be discussing on social media. It could be local, regional or even national.

Have an idea? Post it here, email it to me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com, or send it to me on Twitter, at @katymurphy.


Calling all student video producers!

Youth Media Festival
image courtesy of KQED and Bay Area Youth Media Network

If you know of a student who is a video storyteller or uses the medium to highlight social issues, this opportunity might be of interest to them. The deadline’s been extended to Sept. 10.

For its first public festival, KQED and the Bay Area Youth Media Network (BAYMN) are seeking youth-produced videos that tell stories or highlight issues of social change.

We are now accepting submissions from youth ages 12–24 who have made video projects in school, in an after-school program, in a summer program, or independently. Projects must be published on a video-hosting site such as YouTube,SchoolTube, or Vimeo. Videos may not exceed 15 minutes and must have been produced AFTER June 1, 2011. The deadline is Sept. 10, 2012.

Prizes will be awarded in both of these categories as well as in the general competition.


Weinberg: Extra money makes a huge difference in student outcomes

Steven Weinberg, a retired Oakland teacher and Education Report contributor, makes a case for the Proposition 30 tax initiative on the November ballot.

Steven WeinbergDoes providing schools with more money lead to improvements in student achievement?

The experience of Oakland middle schools over the last three years shows that it does.

Several years ago four Oakland middle schools with test scores in the lowest 20 percent of state schools received multiyear grants of $900 per student to reduce class sizes and fund other improvements. The grants were not given to all schools in the lowest 20 percent because the state wanted to be able to compare differences in improvement between those schools that received the extra money and those that did not.

After three years the differences in Oakland’s middle schools are dramatic. Continue Reading


Share your back to school photos, stories

photo by Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group

So much happens on the first day of school. There are so many moments — funny, sweet, poignant, awkward — that I’d like to collect some of them, straight from you.

The simplest way for me to do this, I’m told by our social media experts, is through Twitter.

If you’re game, tweet your pictures, funny stories, anecdotes, thoughts and even breaking news — and include the hashtag #oaklandschools so I can find it. If we get enough material, we might create a Storify page to highlight your collective photos and musings from the day.

I’ll be tweeting too, from @katymurphy.

Best wishes in your final back-to-school preparations!


Oakland special education teacher shuffle: Memo offers rationale, but no numbers

Here’s the text from the memo the Oakland school district administration circulated yesterday with its rationale for the recent last-minute special education resource teacher reassignments. Deputy Superintendent Maria Santos told the school board that nine of the 26 teachers were reinstated to their original schools. It sounded as though more might follow.

OEA President Trish Gorham said this to the administration, noting that actual student numbers won’t be known until school starts: “It’s OK to admit you were wrong. Accept it, own it, hit the pause button. … For the sake of over 500 of our most vulnerable students who are affected by this outrageous proposal, do the right thing.”

August 22, 2012

Memo on Program for Exceptional Children (PEC) Staff Reassignments

Continue Reading


Dozens of special education teachers get new schools — this week

Just days before reporting to work, 26 of the Oakland school district’s 76 special education resource teachers have received major assignment changes — most, if not all, involving at least one new school, according to the Oakland teachers union’s new president, Trish Gorham.

Linda Grayson, who has worked with special needs children in general education classes at Brookfield and Markham elementary schools — some of them, for three years — said she received a letter Saturday informing her she’d be moved to Global Family, Korematsu and Esperanza.

The letter came as a shock, she said, as she’d been told in June that she’d be returning to the two schools; she’d already held a meeting with the principal of Markham about plans for the year.

“Now we have our most vulnerable children coming back to this,” Grayson said. (She also noted that nearly all of the families at her new schools are Spanish speaking, and that she doesn’t speak Spanish.)

I’ve been getting emails and calls about this development from people concerned that it will undermine the relationships and trust built between families, general education teachers, resource specialists and other staff members. Some, I’m told, will turn out to tomorrow night’s school board meeting.

Here’s what OUSD spokesman Troy Flint reported last night in response to my query about the special education department, whose official name is Programs for Exceptional Children, or PEC. Continue Reading


This week, some guidance and support for new OUSD teachers

New Oakland fourth-grade teachers take a break from lesson planning under the guidance of Piedmont Avenue Elementary School teacher Dana Graham during this week’s New Hire Induction Institute. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Dunlap/Oakland Unified School District)

Each year, on the first day of school, more than 100 teachers are experiencing their first day in an Oakland classroom. The first days of school are notoriously daunting for new hires — I vividly remember the tension on Andy Kwok’s face on Day 1 of his three-year teaching career at McClymonds High in 2007.

To  smooth out those first few days in the classroom and introduce new teachers to some of their colleagues (new and veteran), OUSD’s Talent Development Office held its second New Hire Induction Institute this week. About 100 new teachers came, on average, on each day of training, said Margaret Dunlap, who coordinated the event at Madison Middle School. Substitute teachers were invited this year as well; about 20-25 came each day.

Continue Reading