The Most Informative Blog You’ll Ever Read About Oakland’s Call for Quality Schools

Senior Policy Fellow, Rachel Korschun, did extensive research about the Call for Quality Schools initiative, led by Superintendent Antwan Wilson, currently causing so much confusion and controversy in Oakland. 

Read here for an excellent overview of the situation.  The blog includes links galore, so you can check out the information for yourself from its primary sources.

What is the Call for Quality Schools?

The Call for Quality Schools comes from the OUSD Board’s Quality Schools Development Policy which passed in April of 2013.  See Board Policy 6005 updated August 27th, 2014 for the updated policy. See the policy’s Administrative Regulations V4.4 (rev 2/7/15) and Feb 11th Board Presentation (downloads file).


How were the five Intensive Support Schools identified?

Schools were selected by the Board of Education in April 2014.

Going forward schools will be selected based on administration regulations process.

Schools will be identified by a number of different metrics:

School Quality Review

Strategic Regional Analysis (large file download)

Strategic Regional Analysis (overview)

Balanced Scorecard

+ School Performance Framework (under development)

+ Student Performance Data

+ Site Utilization & Enrollment Projections

See slide 4 and page 21 Goal III Section B.


Which schools were selected?

The following five schools were selected by the Board of Education.  Click on each school for more information about academic and other information about each.

1. Brookfield

2. Castlemont

3. Fremont

4. Frick

5. McClymonds


What must be included in proposals for new school plans for Intensive Support Schools?

School sites, communities, and other providers are invited to submit proposals for new school plans that must include the following five “pillars.”

1. Educator Effectiveness Pipelines

2. Strong School Culture

3. Increased Time on Task

4. Rigorous Academics

5. Linked Learning/Personalized Learning

Each school also has district mandated site-specific criteria.

Click here for more information about the five Pillars.   Click here for the district’s research base.


Are schools provided with any supports to complete the proposals?

School sites are provided with $22,000 to support their creation of proposals. (See slide 11)


What if more than one proposal team forms at a school site?

If more that one team forms, the district will help facilitate a process to help them join.  Otherwise, supports will only be available to one team. (Letter from Allen Smith)


Once proposals are submitted who will evaluate them?

Site Based Committees (pg. 24) will evaluate them based on a rubric with these four categories:

+ School Culture

+ Leadership

+ Educational Program

+ Teaching

Site-based Committee rosters are available here.


How are stakeholders involved?

Here is an overview of the different bodies through which stakeholders are involved. (Spanish version)

Here is a graphic of the different bodies for community stakeholders and their roles in the process.


Who makes the final decision on which proposals are accepted?

The School Board makes the final decision. The Superintendent will make a final recommendation to the Board for approval based on feedback from the (1) School Site Based Committees and the (2) Academic Review Board.

Academic Review board composition for 2014-2016.  Click here for the explanation of academic review boards (pg. 24).


When does implementation begin for these plans?

There are two possible timelines.

Under Timeline I, after plans are selected, design teams enter the Program Development Planning Phase to prepare for school opening in the Fall of 2016.

Timeline II results in a new school opening in Fall 2017.

Four of the five schools are on Timeline I. Brookfield Elementary is on Timeline II.


Can charter schools submit a proposal?

Yes. As a condition of acceptance, charters must agree to participate in OUSD’s special education programs, abide by the same discipline policies as OUSD schools, and participate in OUSD’s options process.

Click here for the district’s explanation of why charter’s are involved in the Call (pg. 3)

Update: No charter school proposals have been submitted for any schools on Timeline I.


Does the Call for Quality Schools mean that charter schools are taking over?

Charter schools may submit proposals for quality school plans for any school.

Charter schools in this process must still be approved by the Board of Education.


Is what’s happening here similar to what Superintendent Wilson implemented in Denver schools?

Superintendent Wilson was an assistant superintendent in Denver where he worked specifically with turnaround schools.  In Denver they followed a similar intensive schools and Call for Quality Schools process for consecutive years.

See the Denver Public Schools’ website for their version of the Call for Quality Schools.


Does the Call for Quality Schools process relate to contract negotiations with the teacher’s union?

Article 12, which deals with teacher tenure and reassignment, & Article 27, which regulates school governance freedoms, both impact the Call for Quality Schools Process.

Click these links for the district’s package proposal in bargaining, the union’s most recent bargaining updates, and current contract language.


Important Websites: (regularly updated)



Educators: How Will Wilson’s 5-Year Plan Affect Teaching Policy in Oakland Schools?

Superintendent Wilson released his updated plan, “A Pathway to Excellence, 2015-2020”, at the last OUSD School Board meeting. The plan focuses on three primary areas: Effective Talent Programs, an Accountable School District, and Quality Community Schools.

Wilson writes, “Someday, somewhere in America, a school district and a city will fulfill its obligation to its children. Why not now? Why not Oakland?”

To watch the video of Wilson unveiling his plan at the school board meeting, click here.

To read Wilson’s gripping reflections on the recent events in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York, and their implications for our work here in Oakland, click here.

What are your reactions to the plan and what implications do you think Wilson’s plan might have on teaching policy and practice in Oakland schools? Is this the plan that will move Oakland from a community with great potential to one that has exceeded it?

We’d love to hear from you!

Examining Why Teachers Leave

Due to high turnover, teachers today are less experienced than ever and this may be a permanent change that the school system has not addressed. Low pay, while a major issue influencing teacher attrition, is not the most significant factor in teacher decisions to leave the classroom. That’s according to a recent Carnegie report, Beginners in the Classroom.”

As an Oakland teacher, I think teachers and administrators talk about turnover a lot in our schools because every year we experience the struggles associated with it, but the cycle continues. School budgets are often structured as such that if a teacher leaves and needs to be replaced, schools cannot afford to hire the most experienced and qualified teachers. So new teachers are hired and 70 percent of our teachers leave Oakland schools within their first 5 years in the classroom. As a result, we’re saving money in the beginning but increasing turnover in the long run.

My school Skyline High has been slowly progressing over the years to ensure that we are doing a better job at serving kids and to make the working environment more collaborative, positive, and sustainable for teachers and staff. However, that change takes time, and this job never becomes easy, so teacher turnover is still a major issue. I believe teachers are significantly underpaid for the challenging and critical work we do, and I believe that compensation does play a major role in teachers’ decisions to continue in the classroom or to leave. If you ask young lawyers and consultants at major firms if they enjoy the long, grueling hours, (or even if they like their jobs), I doubt many would say yes, but you don’t see the same amount of turnover because in those professions, high compensation keeps them in the professions.

At the same time, I agree that the teaching profession attracts a different breed of professionals who are motivated by much more than money, and with the intense nature of our work, a supportive staff and administration is critical to sustaining experienced and effective teachers in the classroom.

I am fortunate to work with a staff of educators who believe deeply in peer support and provide it on a regular basis. I have worked for the past four years in a small academy team, whose support has carried me through many, many hurdles. I also have the fortune to work for an administrative team that works tirelessly, values teacher input and leadership, and continues to lead our school to be more effective each year. Without this collegial support or the appropriate compensation, I am confident that I would have already left teaching, but because I have the support, I am inspired to continue in this important work.

-Lisa Rothbard Manager of Teacher Leadership

P.S. We want to hear from you! The study concluded that low pay is not the most significant factor in teacher decisions to leave positions. In your view, is it a matter of low pay or more a matter of other intangible rewards, job satisfaction, and the like? Click here and let us know what you think!