In tonight’s Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell will be sharing updates on the following:
- Spring In-person Learning: OUSD entered phase 2 of spring in-person instruction today (phase 1 started on march 30th). The Superintendent will be sharing sample school schedules, safety measures that are being taken to ensure safety, and graduation ceremony guidelines.
- Highlights from School Sites: OUSD is shouting out Sequoia Elementary, Emerson Elementary, Think College Now, and Madison Park Academy for going the extra mile to ensure students and staff feel safe and cared for as they go back to in-person instruction.
- Summer In Person Learning: OUSD is planning on serving 6,000 K-12 students this summer. You can find the list of district summer programs here (includes school site, type of program, duration of program, and grade availability). Targeted families are beginning to receive invitations this week and orientations will begin in May. In addition, high school students will get the opportunity to complete online A-G courses needed to graduate.
- Distance Learning Attendance: OUSD will be sharing the latest attendance percentages as of March 30.
We know that expanded access to learning opportunities is critical to our students’ recovery from the massive disruption to learning over the past year. The district is offering summer school for 6,000 students this year — an increase from 4,500 students served prior to the pandemic. Even with this expansion, fewer than 1 in 5 OUSD students will have access. We urge the district to continue to expand learning opportunities in dramatic ways to help drive the recovery as schools become safer and in-person learning becomes more feasible. OUSD must also focus on improving the quality of those learning opportunities to ensure that students have access to learning acceleration, not just remediation, whether it’s access to high-dose tutoring, extended learning interventions (such as after school programs and Saturday school), and most importantly, access to rigorous grade-level content for all students.
Vice President Sam Davis is proposing that OUSD 1) requests the greatest possible flexibility from state testing during the 2020-21 school year 2) grants parents or guardians the right to excuse his or her child from state testing by submitting a written request (note: California already allows parents to opt out of testing for their child).
Assessments provide important information for families, educators, and systems-leaders to make decisions about how best to serve students. The pandemic has created massive disruption to learning and OUSD currently has a patchwork of different assessments for different grade levels which makes it difficult to compare and see how students are progressing over time.
Because California has already submitted a waiver to the US Department of Education requesting flexibility around testing, it is important to ensure that OUSD has an alternative, a coherent formative assessment plan in place that measures what students know and allows teachers to align their instruction accordingly and track student progress across multiple years. The state has already approved a shortened version of the Smarter Balanced math and English language arts tests. Districts could get the chance to administer their own assessments as long as they align with Common Core state standards; are available to assess students in grades 3-8 and 11; are uniformly administered across a grade span, school or district; and provide disaggregated results for parents, educators and the public. Dismissing state tests, without having a strong local assessment plan in place is irresponsible during a time of such disruption to student learning.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen a steep growing mental health crisis among youth and teens across the Bay Area. While so much focus has been put on physical safety, it is also important to emphasize healing, social emotional and mental health as the District transitions back to full time in person learning in the fall. Student Board Director Jessica Ramos and Director Aimee Eng have been working on a resolution that directs the Superintendent to create a comprehensive plan that allows the district to:
- Create and support a relational culture (i.e. outreach and “welcome check-in” with every OUSD student and family during the first month to build stronger relationships)
- Support mental health and wellness (i.e. creating intentional healing and restorative spaces for students and staff, partnering with Alameda County)
- Plan, train and build capacity (i.e promoting opportunities to share best practices across school communities)
Physical safety and mental health are foundational to students’ academic success. As our community seeks to recover from the trauma and disruption of the past year, we need bold policy focused on mental health supports. GO has long advocated for families and educators who are closest to students to have decision-making power and this resolution would allow for that. As any mental health supports are implemented next year, it is important that school sites are setting that vision to implement these plans and creating potential paid opportunities for educators, family members, community partners, and recent alums to support our students and spur collective healing.
Also, with limited one-time funds there is always the concern about sustainability, but our hope is that the District can leverage the moment to embed practices within the school sites that can be sustained even after this funding runs out.