BOARD WATCH: Early literacy progress, enrollment declines, and COVID one-time fund


For more, click here for the full agenda.

You can join the meeting through the Zoom meeting by clicking on this link at 5:30pm or by calling (669) 900-9128, then entering the Webinar ID 848 1473 6159, then pressing “#”.

Item #21-2364

OUSD recently launched its 2021-24 Strategic Plan. The first priority initiative is “Ensuring Strong Readers by Third Grade.” Research shows that if students are reading by 3rd grade, they are more likely to graduate. Tonight, Chief Academic Officer, Sondra Aguilera will be presenting an update to the board on progress made toward improving early literacy as part of the strategic plan as well as updates on district wide assessment systems, professional learning supports, curriculum implementation, and targeted support strategies. 

While remote testing last year makes it difficult to compare this year’s diagnostic results, the district will be sharing data about student progress on early literacy assessments, including Kindergarten letter identification assessment and the i-Ready assessment in first and second grades. Click here to see how one parent has used the results from this assessment to keep his children motivated and focused on improving their early literacy skills. Here are the data headlines:  

  • Kindergarten: Only 34% of kindergarteners know 20 or more lower-case letters. This falls short of the district’s goal of 80% by 10/29.
  • 1st and 2nd Grade: While remote testing makes it difficult to compare this year’s results to last year’s results, only about 1 in 5 first and second graders are at “early or mid-above” grade level in reading according to the district’s fall i-Ready assessment results dashboard

During the height of the pandemic, the district made a shift to a new assessment system – the i-Ready – to measure learning in math and reading in grades K-5. Students take the assessment three times each year – fall, winter, and spring – to measure each student’s growth throughout the year. The district has made a five-year commitment to using the i-Ready assessment, which will allow them to consistently measure how all students are doing across the entire school system. Here is what parents can expect this year: 

Item #21-2213

Enrollment: Enrollment is slightly down by 585 students. The projected enrollment of 34,963, currently sits at 34,378. See below for a breakdown:

Vaccines: Booster shots are now available to all educators. Educators (including staff or contractors working for the district) can access booster shots through your healthcare provider, pharmacies, and community locations. Remember to bring your vaccine card or proof of your first two Pfizer shots from the Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record website. In partnership with Alameda County & School-Based Health Center Lead Agencies, the district is offering pop up events at the following sites.   

  • Pop-ups: Elmhurst United, West Oakland Middle
  • Weekly: Oakland High, Madison Park, Castlemont (biweekly), McClymonds (biweekly), The Central Kitchen – West Oakland (NEW! Saturdays through December 18th)


COVID Positive Case Dashboard: According to the OUSD COVID Case Dashboard, positive case counts remain relatively low across the district for both students (11 current cases) and staff (2 current cases).

Sojourner Truth (Distance learning update) 

The District’s designated remote learning school has increased enrollment to 977. On 9/2, 400 students were transferred from the waitlist. 45 additional staff has been hired and the superintendent predicts more staff will be necessary as enrollment increases.  

Item #21-2384

Tonight, OUSD Chief Budget Officer, Lisa Grant-Dawson will share an update to the board on the district’s progress spending down the $283M in COVID one-time relief funds. The district has already spent or already specifically allocated the vast majority of these funds for future expenses in years 2 and 3 (2022-2024). Only $11.6M remains.  

A record amount of money is being funneled into Oakland schools via the nearly $300M in one-time COVID relief funds. Families should have power in determining how that money is spent and the public deserves complete transparent accounting of where those dollars are going. In Oakland, School Site Councils (SSCs) have been charged with the decision-making for much of these funds in order to ensure students are safe as they return to in-person learning and to drive the learning recovery. While site-based decisions make sense, this decentralized approach does make transparency and accountability more difficult. Several board members have supported a public dashboard to track these expenses but the district has not provided an update on such a dashboard. OUSD must do more to transparently show how schools are spending this massive infusion of funds at the school site level in order to provide system-level accountability and to ensure equitable allocation of our limited resources.

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