Initiative: Strong Readers
Accelerating Citywide Efforts to Guarantee Literacy for all Third Graders
- Our vision for strong readers
- Our four areas of focus
- Measurable goals
- Past and present work in this area
- What we're hearing
- Working group participants
Oakland’s vision is that its youngest students develop a joyful curiosity and a love of reading, writing and self-expression. Over time, they will grow the literacy skills they need to become lifelong readers, critical thinkers and effective communicators. All students will have a command of the power of literacy as a means of personal expression, economic opportunity, and community leadership. This must include 21st century skills like digital literacy, collaboration, and creativity.
Students will own their learning in classrooms in which they feel belonging, safety and deep connection. These spaces will be alive within a community of literacy role models that reflect the cultures and languages of our diverse students. Motivated by relevant learning experiences and powerful relationships, our youngest students will develop confidence that will lead to success throughout their time in school.
This will be possible because each and every student will receive research-based reading instruction from the moment they step foot in school, bridging anti-racist practices and the science of reading. This includes both phonics instruction and meaningful experiences with reading, writing and discussing rich books, articles, and digital content. Students will be engaged in grade-level instruction regardless of their starting point, with appropriate scaffolding, small groups, and language supports to ensure mastery. Bilingual and multilingual students will have pride in their home language and develop their ability to read, write and communicate in more than one language. Teachers will utilize high-quality materials and have the time, collaboration and coaching they need to grow their capacity and deliver effective lessons.
We will build a vibrant city-wide reading community, with community-based organizations aligning to accelerate student literacy, and families and communities reading together. The district will invest in the leadership of parents, catalyzing their ability to become literacy ambassadors. Families will understand the curriculum, key literacy milestones, and ways to support their child and to partner with their teacher. Families, educators, and community leaders will move arm-in-arm in service of our children’s literacy.
During our strategic planning process in Spring 2021, our working group identified four focus areas. Each focus area includes a list of Year 1 actions and deliverables. Learn more about our actions and deliverables here. →
Get aligned: Clarifying the roles of schools, district, families and community-based organizations, better aligning instruction and services across schools to build excitement about reading and writing across the city
Put families in the driver's seat: Increasing parent and family capacity to advocate for and support literacy and building more powerful home-school partnerships
Invest in our educators: Ensuring that teachers have the coaching and professional development they need to grow their practice and learning from our teachers as they implement curriculum and research-based practices
Use data to make the best decisions: Using data to allocate resources equitably, support effective implementation of core reading instruction, celebrate growth, and learn from best practices
The Strategic Plan includes a Superintendent’s Dashboard that describes the key metrics OUSD will be monitoring, which align with the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) goals. Learn more about the LCAP and Superintendent's Dashboard here. →
Early learners are achieving: Increase the percentage of K and 3rd graders reading at grade level on Spring i-Ready assessment by 12 percentage points by 2024
Our working group conducted an analysis of past and present literacy efforts in Oakland to better understand what work we are building on. Below is an overview of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) identified for this initiative. The full document with detailed SWOT analysis is available here. →
Strengths: Oakland benefits from a shared view of literacy as a social justice issue and foundational work towards coherence, with a K-2 common assessment established, a newly adopted curriculum, and increasing coordination opportunities for community partners.
Weaknesses: Past variation in curriculum and practices across schools and misaligned partners have contributed to a lack of coherence. There is a lack of consistent practices to teach students at different levels of mastery, with the need for significant teacher development around the new curriculum.
Opportunities: There is the potential for greater alignment across the ecosystem, deliberate professional learning across staff, teacher leadership, and family empowerment to support student literacy at school and at home.
Threats: There is the threat of lack of focused attention on and funding for literacy and not providing the time and space for educator training to bring teachers along with changes in curriculum. We must move beyond philosophical debates towards the shared implementation of plans to accelerate literacy achievement
The district held a series of listening sessions in early June 2021 to begin to collect feedback. Below is a summary of what we heard from our community. This has informed the start of Phase 3 and is shaping continued community learning and engagement. Learn more about how you can get involved here →
Need for public data regarding reading skills, with the opportunity to align this to the Academic Milestones documents: Focus Area 4 has more information on data use and sharing
Importance of family engagement and partnership and to build capacity for this partnership with families, including those who are illiterate or do not speak English: Focus Area 2 details some ways that this plan seeks to partner with families
Need for cultural inclusion, reflecting multiple histories and types of cultural expertise: Please see Focus Area 3 for more info on the implementation of the newly adopted curriculum, selected in part because it was the most culturally-reflective of all curricula evaluated
Need for K-2 dyslexia screening: A strength named in the above section is the district’s newly adopted universal screener, which will help to identify students who need additional literacy supports, which can include those for dyslexia
Opportunity to support schools in developing literacy teams that include educators, families, and older students as partners: Focus Area 2 has more information about how these teams and partnerships will be built together with families
We cannot approach literacy development as something that solely occurs between one teacher and one student. The following list includes participants of our Strong Readers working group and reflects the key expertise and perspectives we need in this citywide effort.
Working Group Co-Chairs
Wesley Jaques, OUSD
Lakisha Young, The Oakland REACH
Romy Trigg-Smith, OUSD
Sanam Jorjani, Oakland Literacy Coalition
Exequiel Ganding, Oakland Literacy Coalition