Despite the chorus of moaning, groaning, and bemoaning at OUSD Board meetings, things are going relatively well. Graduation rates are up among Black and Latino students, and overall, continuing significant trends. The District is showing a positive fund balance, and approval from the public is at the highest point in decades.
Obviously the job isn’t done, and for our most underserved students there is a marathon to sprint, but looking at the data, things are better.
Here are some of the data highlights, from the District’s press release
- (the) four-year graduation rate increased by 3.7 percentage points, from 60.9% to 64.6%. Over the past three years, the graduation rate in Oakland’s public schools has climbed steadily, from 59.6% in 2012 to 64.6% in 2015.
- African American male students showed a major 6.9 percentage point increase, from 52.6% in 2014 to 59.7% in 2015. The rate for all African American students increased by 3.3%, from 57.4% in 2014 to 60.7% in 2015.
- Latino students also showed an increase of 1.5 percentage points, from 54.4% in 2014 to 55.9% in 2015.
- English Language Learner students increased by 6.4 percentage points, from 44.5% in 2014 to 50.9% in 2015.
- Students with Disabilities increased by 9.6 percentage points, from 46.6% in 2014 to 56.2% in 2015.
- The graduation rate for foster youth showed the biggest gain, an increase of 23.7 percentage points, from 34.4% in 2014 to 58.1% in 2015.
The growth in these underserved student groups is incredibly important and the result of well-planned and hard work, like the African American Male Achievement initiative. Though there is still immense work to be done. And we should double down on that work and think about how we cater to other underserved groups.
Not Everyone Is Seeing Progress, and Progress Is not Enough
Even amidst the progress reported, there are huge challenges. Nobody can be satisfied with a system where 1 in 3 students predictably won’t graduate. And not every subgroup improved.
Pacific Islander’s graduation rates decreased from 56.5% to 53.7%. While student numbers were low for Native students, only 16 graduates, the graduation rate was only 43.8%, the lowest of any racial subgroup, and a significant downturn from the prior year.
But overall, Oakland is moving in the right direction, student outcomes and disparities are improving. We still have yawning achievement gaps, and real issues with segregating underserved children in the lowest achieving schools, but graduation rates are improving.
This academic progress is buttressed by financial stability and relatively high approval rates found in the parcel tax survey, which I summarize below (or GO Public Schools did and I took their language).
OUSD’s financial Status
According to the third interim executive summary:
- The district is projected to have a positive unrestricted fund balance of $17.6 M, which is an increase of approximately $1.7 million from the second interim report
- The general fund projected unrestricted revenues are expected to increase by a net of approximately $1.9 million, due to $1 million net adjustments in prior year revenues and $0.9 million of LCFF revenues from an increase in average daily attendance (ADA)
- Expenditures and uses are expected to increase by approximately $2.1 million, due to an increase of $1.2 million in the contribution to programs for exceptional children (PEC) and $.9 million in one time audit findings
So despite challenges and new initiatives, Oakland is operating on balanced books. We still need more money for our kids but as opposed to other periods of innovation, we are improving while creating relatively sustainable budgets.
Parcel Tax Survey Results
The public has noticed the progress and is showing the greatest levels of support for the district in decades. This is all interrelated, because this support can turn into funding, through another parcel tax, as GO stated
“The board will hear the results of a poll commissioned by the district to explore the possibility of a November 2016 parcel tax. The contracted polling firm conducted 601 interviews with likely voters and received the following results:
32% of Oaklanders surveyed believe that OUSD is doing either an excellent or good job, the highest rate since 1994. At only 18%, the rate of Oaklanders who believe OUSD is doing a poor job is also at its lowest rate since 1994.
34% of Oaklanders believe that the quality of education in OUSD has increased in the last 2-3 years, the highest rate since 2001.
Over 70% of Oaklanders surveyed would support a parcel tax measure for OUSD, with this number increasing for a parcel tax with a 10-year sunset.”
I don’t think our work will ever end in Oakland but looking at some of the most important indicators, graduation rates, financial stability, and public support, OUSD is doing pretty well.
Below you can see the chart I created showing disaggregated graduation rates over the last 2 years.
Cohort Graduation Rate
|Hispanic or Latino of Any Race||836||845||455||472||54.4||55.9||221||234||26.4||27.7|
|American Indian or Alaska Native, Not Hispanic||*||16||*||*||80.0||43.8||*||*||10.0||56.3|
|Asian, Not Hispanic||430||379||312||300||72.6||79.2||69||52||16.0||13.7|
|Pacific Islander, Not Hispanic||46||41||26||22||56.5||53.7||13||15||28.3||36.6|
|Filipino, Not Hispanic||26||18||16||18||61.5||100.0||*||*||23.1||0.0|
|African American, Not Hispanic||848||766||485||465||57.2||60.7||222||203||26.2||26.5|
|White, Not Hispanic||180||184||134||139||74.4||75.5||34||30||18.9||16.3|
|Two or More Races, Not Hispanic, Not Hispanic||25||28||16||19||64.0||67.9||*||*||24.0||17.9|