Oakland's Black, Brown students lag behind state levels for reading, math: report

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Friday, March 29, 2024
Oakland's Black, Brown students lag behind for reading, math: report
A new report shows that half of Oakland's Black and Brown students don't meet the basic eligibility requirements for college.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A new report shows that half of Oakland's Black and Brown students don't meet the basic eligibility requirements for college.

"It is really disturbing. We are looking at very little progress in Oakland education, for particularly Black and Brown students," says Kimi Kean. She is CEO of Families In Action, which works to help parents better advocate for their students.

Families in Action released a new report on Thursday called Raise the Bar.

The data suggests that only 2 in 10 Black and Brown students are reading at grade level, which is 14 percentage points below the state average. Just 1 in 10 are doing math at grade level, which is 10% below the state average. And, that the math proficiency is unchanged since 2015.

"Those show that about 50% of Black and Brown students graduate from high school, being able to apply to college," explains Kean.

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The report is based on publicly available data. It covers all of Oakland's public schools - both district and charter schools. That's about 45,000 students.

Keans says the root of the problem is leadership.

"The numbers are shocking. But what's more shocking to us is that our elected officials and citywide leaders are not focused enough on making a difference.," says Kean.

Oakland School Board member Jorge Lerma doesn't dispute the data. But he says the Oakland Unified School District does have programs in place to help with student achievement.

"There are gains. I am very supportive of the programs of the Oakland Unified School District programs, especially the superintendent's strategic plan. It's right on. It hits all the important areas. But we need to accelerate," says Lerma.

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Some board members admit that Oakland schools have been behind for decades. Then came the pandemic. There was last year's teacher strike. And there are the on-going budget issues.

Board president Sam Davis says they are trying to change the focus.

"I have been trying to nudge us in the right direction. Asking the superintendent to include some student outcome data in every report, in every meeting," says Davis.

Kean says there are some bright spots, even in schools in lower socio-economic parts of Oakland. She says the success is based on data-driven decision making at the school level. She wants city and educational officials to understand what is working at those schools and try to replicate that across the city.

"We actually need to pay attention to what they are doing. This, we believe, should be the focus of our citywide leaders if we are going to break out of the citywide crisis that we are in," says Keane.

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