Back To School Good News
By Kerry Hamill, Board member and City Council candidate
Welcome back to school for the 2008-2009 school year.
I am happy to share some good news about the academic accomplishments of our public school students in Oakland – both last year and over the last seven years.
The state’s Academic Performance Index (API) is a rating from zero to 1,000 that measures how well students perform against all other public school children in California.
Last year, Oakland public school student scores in reading and math standards improved across the system. OUR API over the last five years has risen over 100 points (12% improvement) – with dramatic gains in every elementary school in the city. Oakland is the state’s most improved school district since 2002.
Our gains this year are especially satisfying because the big jumps are posted in schools that serve some of the most economically disadvantaged students. The top achiever was Sankofa Elementary – a school which I started with the community at the former Washington School site on Shattuck Avenue three years ago. Close to half the students at Sankofa now demonstrate proficiency in the state standards in both reading and math.
The people and taxpayers of Oakland have been tremendously supportive of Oakland’s public schools throughout the years. My mission as a school board member has been to reward that generosity by increasing student achievement so that every student has a chance at a productive, successful life.
We have a long way to go.
80% of all jobs today require some level of education beyond high school. Sadly, nearly 40% of our students don’t finish high school.
High school dropouts face a life of diminished prospects: In many cases, their ability to provide for themselves, support a family, help build the community becomes limited.
Since 2003, the percentage of graduates qualified to enter the UC/CSU system has more than doubled. I have pushed the system to add more advanced placement courses in Oakland’s high schools and I have identified hundreds and thousands of dollars in grant money for art and music programs to keep all of our students engaged creatively.
We cannot deliver on the promise of equality for all that is the birthright of every American unless we provide high-quality education for all. This is why equity in education has emerged as the great civil rights issue of our time.
I continue to partner with families to make sure they know what their child should be accomplishing and how they can play a role in the learning process. Here are a few ideas:
• Read at home with your child every night
• Make sure your child has help with homework and has a quiet place to work
• Turn the television off during the week
• Tell all children that you expect them to graduate high school and to attend college.
The City of Oakland has a great role to play to help ensure a 100% graduation rate in Oakland. Please review my Public Safety Prevention Platform on this website. It spells out all the ways I will align and coordinate services between the School District and the City of Oakland so that our youth get more services without a tax increase.
We must fight for our children’s future. We must fight for every student, in every classroom, every day. Welcome to a new school year – and the future begins now.
Percentage of students who tested at "proficient" level or higher
OAKLAND 2007 2008
Reading 29% 32%
Math 30% 33%
CALIFORNIA 2007 2008
Reading 43% 46%
Math 41% 43%
ALAMEDA 2007 2008
Reading 59% 61%
Math 53% 53%
BERKELEY 2007 2008
Reading 50% 52%
Math 42% 47%
PIEDMONT 2007 2008
Reading 86% 86%
Math 73% 74%
Congratulations to these 21 Oakland schools that made double-digit percentage point jumps in the number of children who tested at the "proficient" level or better in reading and/or math. Below are the number of points by which these schools improved between 2007 and 2008.
ACORN Woodland Elementary -- 19% in math, 23% in reading
Allendale Elementary -- 14% in math, 11% in reading
ASCEND Elementary -- 13% in math, 11% in reading
Bridges at Melrose -- 11% in math
Brookfield Village Elementary -- 10% in math
Franklin Elementary -- 16% in reading
Grass Valley Elementary -- 12% in math
Horace Mann Elementary -- 16% in math
Howard Elementary -- 16% in math
La Escuelita Elementary -- 11% in math
Manzanita Community Elementary -- 17% in math
Markham Elementary -- 24% in math, 16% in reading
New Highland Academy -- 12% in math
Peralta Elementary -- 14% in math, 14% in reading
Piedmont Avenue Elementary -- 13% in math
Reach Academy -- 14% in math, 13% in reading
Sankofa Academy -- 30% in math, 14% in reading
Sobrante Park Elementary -- 10% in reading
Whittier Elementary -- 11% in reading
Edna Brewer Middle School -- 15% in math, 10% in reading
Oakland Community Day High School -- 15% in reading
Source: Oakland Unified School District