Oakland Public Schools, Office of Public Information
1025 Second Ave. - Room 109 - Oakland, CA 94606
Phone: (510) 879-8582 - Fax (510) 879-1834
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 15,
Sue Piper (510) 879-8582
Oakland Test Scores Support Benefits of
OAKLAND, CALIF.Stating that the STAR test results
vindicated its position on bilingual education, the Oakland Unified
School District today released data that showed that bilingual students
in Oakland who become proficient in the English language exceed the
national average in their academic performance on the 1998 standardized
test, and even do better than their English-only counterparts. STAR test
results for English-speaking students in Oakland in the benchmark grades
of 3, 5, 8 and 10 show that between one-fourth and one-third of students
performed at or above the 50th percentile on the STAR test. The 50th
percentile is considered grade level performance.
TABLE: Total Reading, Math, and
Language Percentile Scores
TABLE: Number of
Students Tested by Language Groups
TABLE: Percent of
English Speaking Students Scoring At/Above the National Average (50th
"Like other Districts throughout the state, we have
found that when English language learners have the opportunity to
successfully learn English, they outperform many of their English-only
contemporaries," said Acting Board President Jean Quan.
"On the other hand, testing students who are not
proficient in English does not measure their academic performance and is
invalid," she continued, noting that Oakland's test score release does
not include the results for English language learners who have been in
this country 30 months or less.
Oakland has taken a strong stand on behalf of
Bilingual Education, joining Berkeley and San Francisco in a successful
bid for a temporary restraining order that barred the State from
releasing STAR test scores for limited English proficient (LEP) just
days before the State planned to release test scores on the Internet on
June 30th. Instead, the State was forced to limit its release to
statewide results for English-only students.
The Court will rule on Thursday, July 16 whether to
hold a hearing on a permanent restraining order.
"Some have accused Oakland of trying to block the
release of scores because we were trying to hide our District's
performance. Nothing is further from the truth," said Carole Quan,
Superintendent of the 53,000 student Oakland Public Schools. One-third,
about 18,000 students, are English-language learners and 5,000 of these
students are recent immigrants.
"Once we had the opportunity to separate the LEP
scores from the totals and take a good look at the information, we found
few surprises. Our test score achievement levels are similar to what was
reported last year on Terra Nova," she continued.
"Oakland has always been up front about our test
results. Last year, each school's results on the Terra Nova standardized
achievement test was published in our local newspaper, and will appear
again this fall," she continued. "We still have a lot of work to do to
raise student performance in Oakland, and we will continue to focus our
energies on both language arts literacy and math literacy."
This past year the District instituted a focused
approach to teaching literacy, using school site coaches for teachers to
improve their teaching strategies, and regular curriculum-embedded tests
to monitor student progress.
"We never expected things to turn around in just one
year. It will take two to three years for significant results to begin
to appear," noted Superintendent Quan. She added that the District
considers literacy crucial to improving student achievement.
"Not only did teachers at school sites emphasize
teaching strategies in literacy last year, but will continue to refocus
their efforts in the coming school year. Additionally, the District and
the City of Oakland are making literacy a City priority, and seek
volunteers to tutor 3rd graders who need extra help to ensure that they
can read at grade level by next spring.
"In education, it is said that students learn to read
through third grade,, and then read to learn thereafter. Providing the
extra support so that all of our students are reading at grade level by
the end of 3rd grade is critical to transforming education in Oakland,"
"This fall, even as we continue our Focus on
Literacy, we will add an emphasis on math, particularly on algebra and
algebra readiness. Perhaps more than any other course, algebra is truly
the gatekeeper to college. That is why our District just changed its
graduation requirements to mandate algebra in the 9th grade. The 9th
graders entering high school this fall will all be enrolled in algebra.
But knowing that many of them may have a hard time with the rigorous
math curriculum, we encouraged students to take a pre-algebra course in
summer school and have built into their day an algebra tutorial, so that
they can take and pass algebra by the end of the year," Superintendent
"We have a lot of work ahead of us. The STAR test
results are but one of many measures of student performance. They didn't
tell us anything new, only reinforced the need for all of us--parents,
teachers, students and the community--to focus our efforts on high