By Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell
As I wrap up my first year as superintendent, I am filled with resolve and optimism for the future.
The collective efforts of our staff and the community to keep students at the center of everything is what drives me to help move the District forward through tough financial times.
I am confident that the steps we are taking to process and learn from past mistakes and our work to improve our accountability and budget forecasting systems are putting us on the right track.
While I know we have more work to do in service of students and families, I am confident about our future because I believe in OUSD.
Our achievements as a District defy the conditions we face every day. Our commitment to providing every Oakland student a high-quality education is first and foremost. We keep proving that we will stop at nothing to prepare our young people for success in college, career and community.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our committed partners, participants in OUSD committees, Oakland voters who helped bring much needed investment to our schools via Measures N, G, and G1 and our existing bond, and our families.
We cannot do this work alone. Here are a few of our accomplishments that show we are headed in the right direction:
- We are leading the State in our efforts to transform high school experiences through Linked Learning. Seventy-eight percent of OUSD high school students participated in pathways this year. That’s up from 53 percent just two years ago, in 2015-16. This means that the majority of our graduates are leaving the District having participated in relevant work-based learning.
- Graduation rates continue to rise across the District; we have seen improvement in each of the past three years with an increase of 5 percent total from the class of 2014 to the class of 2016. We’ve also seen meaningful gains in graduation rates among Special Education students, with more work to be done.
- We are deepening our commitment to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) practices to increase both adult and student engagement, and to foster positive interactions that help our youth express their feelings, manage their actions, and engage in learning.
- Additionally, this year, more than 300 youth were trained as Restorative Justice (RJ) peer facilitators and more than 48,000 (duplicated) students utilized RJ practices.
The explosive growth and interest in computer science at the middle and high school levels continues, building on the 1,000 percent increase in computer science course enrollment we saw between 2015 and 2017. This year, 3,750 middle and high school students were inspired in computer science courses.
We are taking steps towards bringing our Equity Policy to life. The Office of Equity has built on the nationally recognized model of African American Male Achievement to change the narrative and provide targeted support to students through the African American Female Excellence, Latino/a Student Achievement, and Asian Pacific Islander Student Achievement initiatives.
Strengthening our Student and Family Engagement efforts remains a top priority. We continue to work with families and students to understand critical information about student learning, school budgets, and District-wide initiatives. We are continuously improving the ways we encourage participation in OUSD committees and how we ask for partnership and feedback from students and families.
The first year of the Blueprint for Quality Schools process to increase quality education and address sustainability across OUSD is complete. The multi-year strategy continues next year with our first Cohort of schools and the selection of the second Cohort.
As a Sanctuary District, we continue to welcome and stand behind ALL students, no matter where they were born or the barriers they overcame to be here. We cherish the cultural richness in our District and make no exceptions when it comes to including learners with a wide variety of backgrounds and needs.
All of us can take pride in these accomplishments. Next year and going forward, we will continue to make strides to become a more sustainable and thriving District. By aligning and uniting around our District values of Joy, Integrity, Equity, Excellence, Cultural Responsiveness – and, above all – putting Students First, we will realize our vision. Together.
We look forward to welcoming students back for the first day of school on Monday, August 13.
Published June 27, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post