It’s the best time of the year for any Oakland data nerd. It’s when data starts raining from the district and state!
I was thrilled to see that OUSD has released the Strategic Regional Analysis (SRA) for 2016-17. This second edition of the SRA includes many data sets on OUSD schools across the five regions of the city (Central, East, Northeast, Northwest, West). Kudos to OUSD for this progress towards more transparency and to the Data & Assessment team for their impressive work. I’m excited to see how this data informs OUSD decisions.
For those of you who remember last year’s SRA, there are three key differences in this year’s:
- Interactive data visualization: Instead of a printable ginormous report with static graphs like last year’s, this year’s SRA presents information in forms of interactive dashboards, enabling each user to examine the data for answers to his/her own questions. You can focus in on one school, compare regions, or choose to look at trends for the district as whole.
- Less guided experience: Without the structure of a report narrative, users may miss interesting patterns and important conclusions from the data, particularly users who do not have a data background or comfort in navigating data visualizations. While the Executive Summary does include a few key takeaways, I’d love to see more. Later in this blog I’ll offer a few of mine.
- Deeper dive: This SRA dives deeper than before in some topics; for example, Teacher Retention expanded into Teacher Retention and Experience Levels.
Key takeaway #1: It’s a myth that Oakland enrollment is drastically declining! I’ve heard lots of people say that OUSD has been hemorrhaging students over the past few years. But actually, the number of students in district-run schools has held pretty steady over the past five years, enrollment staying within ±1% change each year. There has actually been a 11% growth in public school enrollment over the past five years, but charter schools are capturing the majority of that growth, including a 29% bump from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016
Question to Consider: if OUSD district enrollment has remained steady in past few years and per pupil revenue has been growing, how have we found ourselves in this current budget crisis? (We’ll explore this question in a new series on the OUSD budget.)
Key takeaway #2: We need more quality schools! (I feel like a broken record harping on and on about school quality, but don’t we all want more good schools for our students?!) The number of quality schools (green or blue on the SPF tiering) drop as we move up grades. 10 of 54 Elementary schools and 3 of 22 Middle schools are blue or green. There are 2 “green tier” High schools – not a single top-tier district-run high school in Oakland. That translates to less than 1 in 5 students who have access to a quality district school in Oakland.
Key Takeaway #3: Huge variation in attrition rates by region. The rate at which OUSD students stay in public schools (retention) as they matriculate to middle and high school varies widely by region. Maybe this isn’t big news to folks – but I thought it was interesting that in the more affluent Northwest region, nearly one-third of OUSD 5th graders leave the Oakland public school system for 6th grade! Compare that to only 8% in the East region. The same happens again, where another one-third of OUSD 8th graders in the Northwest region leaves the system (compare 10% in East region).
What are your key takeaways? Send me an email with your insight and a screenshot of the relevant data visualization and I’ll add them to a future post as I continue to dive into the SRA. #datanerdsunite
More to come—stay tuned!
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