OAKLAND — From the flatlands of West Oakland to the shadows of the city's football stadium — in almost every low-income and working-class neighborhood — a public school is celebrating.

In the state's annual progress report, released Tuesday, the scores of nearly 30 Oakland public schools rose 50 points or more on a scale of 200 to 1,000.

Futures Elementary School, which opened in 2007 a few blocks from Oracle Arena, saw the greatest gain in points; its score went from 583 to 701 in one year. The score for East Oakland Pride, a new school on the Webster campus, rose by 112 points to 657, and West Oakland Middle School's jumped by 111 to 698.

Think College Now, an already high-performing school in the Fruitvale district with an English-learner population of more than 60 percent, saw its score shoot up 80 points to 848.

"The district has much to celebrate," said Tony Smith, the new superintendent of Oakland's public schools. "I think a lot of people still don't understand how transformative it's been here."

For all the success stories, the school system hasn't made much of a dent in the enormous disparities between the test scores of its black and Latino students and its white and Asian students. White students, on average, outscored black students by 272 points — about the same gap that existed in 2003.


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"What is it going to take for us to specifically focus on the needs of African-American children and their families?" Smith said. "It's critically important for the future of the city of Oakland that we change that trajectory."

The district's Latino students have made greater strides, over time, than their white, black and Asian peers — 118 points since 2003, compared with 71 points for black students and 99 points for Asian students. Still, the average score for Asian students, 807, is still 147 points higher than the average score for Latinos.

David Silver, principal of Think College Now, said such big-picture goals drive him and his staff to keep improving the instruction and the overall culture at the elementary school; it also inspires him to do whatever he can to recruit and retain excellent teachers, he said.

"Our kids are going to have to compete with everybody," Silver said. "We want to be judged against schools across the district, rich or poor, and against schools across the state, rich or poor."

Think College Now's score is just 16 points below that of Kaiser Elementary School, a diverse school in the Oakland hills, and it has surpassed Glenview Elementary, an increasingly popular, mixed-income school in the city's foothills.

Further east, Futures Elementary School at Lockwood was one of the most-improved schools in the city. Futures is just 2 years old — one of dozens of newly redesigned, small schools in the city's poor neighborhoods — and, like Think College Now, it shares its campus with another elementary school.

Last fall, after some of its original teachers left, Futures began the school year with a crop of new teachers, said its principal, Steven Daubenspeck. He said the school's strategy, in simplistic terms, was "less teacher talking and more student talk," and to improve the relationships between the children and staff members.

Daubenspeck stressed that Futures was committed to educating "the whole child" and that it didn't just measure its success by its reading and math scores. Still, he said, his eyes teared up when he saw the numbers. He hugged and thanked each of his teachers Tuesday after sharing the news.

"This is about people, and the people who came here to do this job," he said.

Find more Oakland test score charts and analysis at Katy Murphy's Oakland schools blog, www.ibabuzz.com/education. Find her on Twitter at twitter.com/katymurphy.

oakland's achievement gap
The differences in average Academic Performance Index scores -- a number ranging from 200 to 1,000 -- remain enormous, despite overall progress.
  • White/black gap: 272 points
  • White/Latino gap: 242 points
  • Asian/black gap: 177 points
  • Asian/Latino gap: 147 points