Study: Exit exam hurts girls and minorities

Researchers with Stanford University’s Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice found that the graduation rates of girls and non-white students have plummeted as a result of California’s high school exit exam requirement.

Looking at four California school districts, researchers analyzed the graduation rates and other data for kids who tested poorly (in the bottom fourth of all students) on standardized reading and math tests that they took earlier, in the eighth and ninth grades.

The study compared what happened to those low-performing students in the Class of 2005 — before the new graduation requirement took effect — with similar students at the same schools in the classes of 2006 and 2007. 

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Should Johnny repeat a grade? No, says OUSD.

Last month, I stumbled upon a memo addressed to all elementary school principals, strongly advising them not to retain kids in the same grade for a second year — particularly kindergartners, English learners and special education students (unless that is part of their education plan).

“First off, the research is clear; retention does not work,” it says.

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Should Oakland stiffen its grad requirements?

Education Trust-West thinks so, and so does Brad Stam, OUSD’s chief academic officer.

Right now, less than 40 percent of Oakland’s high school seniors graduate with the requirements needed to attend a state university. At some local schools, Ed Trust reports, barely more than half of the classes offered count toward those 15 course requirements, known in the education world as “A to G.”

photo by Alison Yin

There seems to be a movement afoot to adopt those college requirements — a `C’ grade or better on all 15 “A to G” courses — as the new standard for graduating high school in Oakland. Continue Reading


News flash: CA schools are unequal

Tribune file photo by Ray Chavez

California schools don’t have enough funding and they provide “inadequate and unequal learning conditions and opportunities,” according to the latest annual report by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access.

The report is more of an advocacy piece than a research analysis, but it does raise (and answer, in no uncertain terms) important questions about the state of public education in California — its class sizes, course offerings, college-going rates, graduation rates, among other measures.  Continue Reading


Report: Oakland charters outshine district schools

Tribune file photo of Lighthouse Community Charter School by Ray Chavez

It might not come as a surprise that a new report by the California Charter Schools Association has found that Oakland’s independently run, publicly financed charter schools are doing better than the city’s traditional public schools.

The report does analyze state test scores in great depth, though, breaking down the results by grade-level, race and economic status. It even matches each charter with two or three district schools (within five miles) that have comparable demographics. In 22 out of 32 cases, the charter school had a higher API score than the similar district schools averaged.

You can find a summary of the report Continue Reading


Adult illiteracy

Nearly one in five adult Alameda County residents can’t understand simple, written English, according to a new estimate released by the National Center for Education Statistics.

But the state’s adult English literacy rate is even worse. California ranks 51st — last in the nation, behind the other 49 states and the District of Columbia — with 23 percent of the adult population unable to glean information from brochures, newspapers or other sources of information.

In 1992, it ranked 33rd. The recent study is based on data collected in 2003.

Neil Gonzales, a fellow education reporter who writes for the San Mateo County Times,  wrote this story about the report. He notes the obvious immigration factor:

In general, states with large immigrant populations had the most residents who were unable to read and understand information from such sources as newspapers and brochures or could grasp only short, commonplace language, the study indicates.

Well, at least the test scores of Oakland’s English learners improved this year. A program at one elementary school even brings in parents and teaches them to read. In Oakland Adult & Career Education, “mobile ESL,” an adult education teacher goes to the homes of OUSD parents.

One teacher recently wrote me about Oakland’s adult literacy programs, saying that in some cases, the older students need to learn how to hold a pencil: Continue Reading