New “growth” data uncovers some bright spots – especially for Latino/a students in Oakland

New “growth” data released by OUSD shows how much students at each school are learning from one year to the next, while reaching for the grade-level standard. As a former school leader, I know that students start the year in very different places. I have also seen firsthand the power of growth data to reframe how students and teachers talk about learning. In my school, it shifted the conversation from “Did I pass the test?” to “How much did I grow?” I recently caught up with a student of mine and she reminded me how motivating growth data can be for students at all achievement levels: 

While schools have had access to growth data for several years, it was only recently made available to the public. This new data compares schools serving similar populations and shows that some Oakland schools are moving black and Latino/a students ahead faster than others. 

Why does this new data matter? 

This data provides a different lens on school quality that other measures like proficiency rates don’t capture. Fruitvale Elementary, for example, serves a high number of low-income students in a densely-populated neighborhood. Proficiency rates show that only 1 in 5 Latino/a students are reading on grade level. But if you dig a little deeper and consider growth, you will find that last year those same students learned at much higher rates than other schools with similar demographics. In fact, when we look at growth data for Latino/a students, Fruitvale Elementary outperformed  almost 9 out of 10 schools in the CORE Data Collaborative, an improvement community comprised of more than 2,000 schools throughout California.  

So, which schools are accelerating student learning for Latino/a students?

Growth data, like achievement data, can fluctuate from one year to the next so it’s important to look at multiple years of data whenever possible. 14 schools (6 district-run and 8 charter) were named “high-growth” for Latino/a students for at least 3 of the last 4 years. This means they’ve sustained the growth over time, moving kids closer to grade level year after year. Only this pattern will lead to proficiency for students who the system has left behind.

The growth data for Latino/a students is encouraging, however, for Black students, only one school, Epic Charter, saw this same level of sustained growth over time. Despite Epic’s strong results for Black students, the school encountered a facilities issue last fall and was forced to reduce its current enrollment size and is not currently accepting new students. This is unacceptable as it only further limits the quality options available for African American families in Oakland.  

Explore the data

Growth data involves communities in understanding and investing in their own growth, changing the primary role of assessment from evaluating and ranking to motivating them to boldly shift their course as needed towards proficiency for ALL students.

I encourage you to dig into this data for your schools and make this data transparent with teachers, students and families. Some charter schools have chosen not to participate in the CORE Data Collaborative or have opted out of publicly sharing this data in the OUSD dashboard. That is not fair to families who deserve to know if their schools are supporting their students to grow. We call on all schools to participate and share their data. Data is only powerful if it is used for action and in partnership with students, families, and educators. 

Check out OUSD’s CORE Growth Dashboard to see this newly available data for both district-run and charter public schools in Oakland. You can sort the data to find high-growth schools for English Learners, students with disabilities, low-income students, and different racial groups.

P.S. Stay tuned for a series of pieces on CORE Growth data and what it means for our community.

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