What is OUSD Doing to Address this Issue?

 

Since 2010, OUSD has made explicit and systematic attempts to improve the fortunes of black males, highlighted by the creation of the Office of African-American Male Achievement (AAMA), a department devoted to fostering practices that accelerate the development of African-American boys. Many of its initiatives are designed to impact the issue which received the most scrutiny in the Urban Strategies report—disproportionate suspension rates for black males.  A tremendous amount of work remains in this area, but OUSD has implemented a series of measures to help reverse a trend which limits the potential of not only black youth, but also the Oakland community as a whole. Initiatives include:

 

Structural

●      Developed Full-Service Community Schools that, in addition to high-quality academics, provide wrap-around services and attention to students’ social and emotional needs

●      Created the Office of African-American Male Achievement (AAMA) to  eliminate the academic and social inequities facing black males in Oakland

●      Adopted a tripartite approach to disproportionality, emphasizing prevention, intervention and restorative practices

 

Research and Assessment

●      Reviewed and promoted national best practices for reducing racially disproportionate suspensions

●      Disaggregated student data by ethnicity and gender to allow for better analysis of factors impacting disproportionate outcomes for black males in suspensions and attendance. Provided data year-round for early intervention

●      Focus on reducing suspensions for “defiance,” a non-violent category that does not warrant removing a student from school

●      Created early warning/early intervention reports based on academic, attendance, and out-of-school suspension indicators

 

Social, Emotional and Behavioral

●      Rejected zero-tolerance strategies as counter-productive

●      Adopted Restorative Justice principles that change the approach from punitive discipline to restorative practices, emphasizing the harm caused and supporting the offender in providing reparations to the victim

●      Introduced Positive Behavioral  Intervention and Support Strategies (PBIS)  to teach and reinforce positive school-wide behavioral expectations that are fair and equally applied to all students in all contexts

 

Cultural

●      Piloted Manhood Development classes to help black males better manage peer and adult relationships, producing a positive impact in attendance rates, discipline and GPA among program participants

●      Hosted African-American Family Summit to form a community consensus on the design of an extraordinary school that serves black students well

 

Literacy

●      Instituted universal screening for reading comprehension in grades 2-12

●      Identified secondary sites with a strong correlation between low literacy rates and low attendance rates, as well as between low literacy rates and high rates of suspension and referrals to special education programs

●      Implemented additional literacy supports to assist with students reading below grade level at 14 secondary sites

●      Redirected intervention resources to where they’re most needed (schools with the highest percentages of struggling students)

 

These initiatives are just the start of a comprehensive effort to eliminate inequitable treatment and wildly disparate outcomes for black males as compared to other student populations in the Oakland Unified School District.