A data-based look at Oakland public schools
Educate78 believes in holding all public schools accountable for equity and quality. One way we do that is through a careful and intentional analysis of data. One important data set that we all need to be looking closely at – educators trying to close the achievement gap, administrators trying to scale up best practices, and parents trying to make the best choices for our kids – is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).
That’s why we’re launching CRUNCHED!, a new blog series that takes a data-driven approach to important, relevant questions facing Oakland public schools, thanks to the hard work of our data analyst Carrie Chan (who is an OUSD alum!). We are excited to share our analysis of SBAC and the implications for Oakland schools. “Happy Data Diving!”
Our first post: SBAC Oakland & Equity, is one of a three-part series examining recent student achievement results. We hope you’ll stay tuned over the next few weeks and beyond to crunch the data with us.
Spring 2016 was the second time that students across California took the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, which is supposed to be aligned to Common Core standards, which in turn is supposed to represent “internationally competitive” expectations. On October 18th, the California Department of Education finally released all school-level SBAC results from Spring 2016 (an earlier release in August included only 80% of students). This analysis reflects this latest release of data.
Most often, people focus on student performance for a school as a whole when rattling off statistics.
Based on this definition, let’s look at Oakland’s “top” performers:
Top Public Schools in Oakland
(All schools with 70% of their students meeting or exceeding standards in either Math or ELA or both on Spring 2016 SBAC)
The schools above are listed in order of greatest total differential—who had the highest percentage of students proficient and above in ELA and math, combined, compared to the Oakland school averages (ELA average = 31%, Math = 24%).
But if you’re like us, you want to dig deeper into the make-up of that score. We know that standardized test scores are highly correlated with student demographics, and some of these schools serve populations that are more affluent and are not English Language Learners – and we were thrilled to see that some of these high performers are serving many low-income students of color exceptionally well!
We also know that overall school performance can mask significantly different outcomes for some populations within a school. So when we see this kind of data, we wonder: what percentage of high need students does this school serve? Does this school have an achievement gap? How are low-income students (FRL) doing? What is the performance of English Language Learners (ELL)?
FINDING THE HIDDEN GEMS
We started looking for Oakland schools that are doing a great job serving populations that are normally “left behind.”
To start unpacking the data, first we looked at the performance of just the low-income students by sorting all Oakland schools by their concentration of students in poverty – that is, those that had a very high percentage of students eligible for free or reduced price lunch. . (Note: Children in a family of four with an annual income of less $44,863 would qualify for reduced-price lunch and income of less than $31,525 or less would qualify for free lunch.)
In some of these schools, the low-income students outperformed the Oakland city-wide average in either ELA, Math, or both. We call them our “Hidden Gems” because these schools usually don’t get the recognition they deserve for doing great things for our high-need Oakland students.
Hidden Gem Schools: Schools with a High FRL Population (>90%) whose FRL Population Outperformed Oakland Average in ELA or Math.
One special bright spot: ACORN Woodland, which outperforms the entire citywide average in both categories, while serving a historically underserved population. Not only do they serve one of the highest FRL populations in the city (top 20%), they also serve a student population where 70% of the students are English Language Learners (ELL). We wonder what Acorn Woodland is doing that can be shared with educators in other schools.
MORE WORK TO DO
In a city in which almost three-fourths of public school students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, we all can learn a lot from these schools. And, even these schools have a long way to go to have all their students meeting or exceeding standards – which is, of course, what everyone is striving for. Oakland’s public school enrollment season is about to begin, and we know that parents and guardians need honest, in-depth, and up-to-date school data. We hope this helps parents make informed choices, and schools to promote their successes.”
Up next time: schools with high ELL populations outperforming OUSD’s average.
My name is Carrie Chan, and I’m Educate78’s newest staff member. I joined the organization as an Analyst, and I LOVE data (feel free to call me a data geek). As a former OUSD student, I also care a lot about Oakland public schools. That is why I am so excited about this new blog series, “Crunched!” which will take a data-driven approach to important, relevant questions facing Oakland public schools. Please email me with ideas or requests.