First-ever comparison of Oakland’s district and charter public schools shows need for learning on both sides

OAKLAND, CA, September 22 – Today, the Oakland Achieves Partnership released its 4th Annual education report. For the first time, this report offers data (from 2014-2015) on whether students are on track for success in all the city’s public schools; district-run and charter. Despite some gaps in the data, the need for improvement, further inquiry, and mutual learning is clear.

“We have the opportunity, as a city and community, to look at the data and  ask questions about how we can serve all our students across the city better,” said Ash Solar, Executive Director of GO Public Schools Oakland, one of nine nonprofit organizations that produced the report. “For charter and district public schools, it’s time to move past an era of mutual suspicion and into mutual learning. Each has something to offer the other.”

For example, the report revealed:

  • 93 percent of students in charter school graduated with the courses needed to enroll in the CSU and UC systems — as compared to 56 percent of students in comparable district-run schools.
  • District-run schools suspend a far lower percentage of students, especially among African-American and Latino students (eight and two percent, respectively) versus eleven and five percent, respectively, for charter schools.

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“It is absolutely essential that the Oakland community is able to understand what is working and what it not working for our kids. We have to focus our collective energies on improving all of Oakland’s public schools.  This report invites us to focus on the areas that matter the most in ensuring more Oakland students can learn, grow, and thrive.” said Brian Stanley, Executive Director of the Oakland Public Education Fund.

The Oakland Achieves Partnership spent over six months collecting and analyzing the data from the district and 36 charter schools. The partnership has long had access to the district data which is collected and analyzed in a central location. For the first time, we obtained similar student level data from each charter school in Oakland.  The data are from 2014-2015. A portion of it collected from the charter schools was incomplete because a student group was too small for state reporting or because the data did not meet the data quality standard.

“Knowledge about the successes and struggles in our schools should be readily available to all parents in Oakland, we’re pleased to push forward to a more transparent school environment and to raise more important questions for our city.” said David Harris, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Strategies Council.

While the process of collecting and analyzing the data will improve , this report reveals that the Oakland  community has much more work to do to ensure all students are prepared to be successful in college, career, and beyond.

Among the notable findings in the report, overall district-run and charter schools served relatively the same percentage of some key vulnerable populations with:

  • Low-income Students:  73 percent of charter students and 74 percent of District students are low income.
  • English Language Learners:  30 percent of students in both district-run and charter schools are English Language Learners.


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One important finding revealed that while charter schools did poorly in ELA testing for 3rd-5th graders, by middle school, math testing of 7th & 8th grades were much better than for district schools- a flip in performance.  Overall, while some data show positive change, we are still faced with unacceptably poor outcomes in many areas. For example, in Oakland public schools in 2014-15:

  • 43% city-wide, were ready for kindergarten.
  • 19% of third-graders in charters and 30% in district-run schools met or exceeded standards in English.
  • 41% middle-schoolers in charters and 19% in district-run schools met or exceeded standards in Math.
  • 87% high school students in charters and 76% in comparable district-run schools graduated on time.

The Oakland Achieves Partnership acknowledged that some of the report findings are disappointing, but it is committed to using the data to initiate a community dialogue on how to build on the strengths and address the identified weaknesses in both sectors, and to find ways to work together.

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