Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oakland Schools Target Graduation, Dropout Rates with New Set of Goals

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group
OAKLAND -- Oakland public school leaders hope to see the graduation rate rise to 64 percent by the end of this school year and the percentage of students who drop out fall to 21 percent as part of a yearly goal setting program for the district called the Balanced Scorecard. 

The school district started setting goals for educating its 46,486 students in December. On Wednesday, the school board reviewed revised goals for this school year, including graduations, suspensions, dropouts and the California High School Exit Exam, among others. 

"I was given a mandate at the beginning of this year of increasing the graduation rate and getting all students ready to graduate," Superintendent Gary Yee told school board members. "This is much less focused on academic achievement around test scores and more nuanced around the high school graduation rate and getting students ready for college and careers." 

Last year, the school district graduated 62 percent of its high-school seniors, including those in charter schools, so this year's goal is 2 percentage points up from that. Statewide, the graduation rate is 78 percent; in Alameda County, it's 79 percent. In 2009, the district graduated 58 percent of its high-school seniors. 

The goal in four years is to have 80 percent graduate. 

In 2009, the school district dropout rate was 30 percent. Last year, it was 24 percent. In four years, the goal is to have it reduced to 13 percent. 

School district spokesman Troy Flint said the Balanced Scorecard is part of a new effort at using data as a policy guide. 

"It's time to look at data seriously and not just rely on intuition," Flint said. "The data helps us make better, more informed decisions and to allow us to intervene before its too late." 

Other goals the district has set for itself include decreasing the percentage of off-campus suspensions among African-American students from 11 percent in the last school year to 9 percent this year; increasing the percentage of African-American students who pass the California High School Exit Exam, taken in 10th grade, from 37 percent last year to 41 percent this year, and increasing the percentage of Latino students who pass the exit exam from 45 percent last year to 49 percent this year. 

Contact Doug Oakley at 925-234-1699. Follow him on Twitter at

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