Mural on a wall in Oakland

Oakland Unified School District

Expanding Access to Literacy

Reading is the foundation of all learning. It allows students to explore their creativity, learn to think critically, and expand their vocabulary starting at an early age. Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland community recognized the need to improve literacy education in their schools and decided to do something about it. With the help of multiple community partners, OUSD is well on its way to disrupting what it calls a “history of inequitable access to literacy.”

Leading Educators Leading Educators
"It’s my mission to ensure all OUSD students receive a strong reading foundation, starting with our youngest students. The literacy gap is rooted in racism, segregation, and the fundamental belief that some students simply cannot achieve. It demands a systemic solution.”

Kyla Johnson-Trammell, OUSD Superintendent

About the Partnership

Bolstering Curriculum Implementation

After a robust piloting and community input process, OUSD adopted EL Education as their new ELA curriculum starting in the 2021-2022 school year. EL Education is a high-quality curriculum that engages students with culturally relevant texts and research projects to present their learning.

Recognizing that strong use of new materials requires deep internalization and practice, Leading Educators is helping OUSD design and deliver sequenced learning for teachers to understand how it’s structured and how they can adapt it for their students’ unique strengths. Over the course of the year, 18,000+ students are now learning with the new curriculum, and 1,000+ teachers received 30 hours of high-quality aligned professional learning.  

The impact so far is clear

  • 86% of Kindergarten students knew their letters in English by the end of the school year, including 85% of Black and 77% of Hispanic and Latino students.
  • In grades K-5, since the beginning of the school year, more students are at or above grade level in reading with fewer students below grade level.  

Students are reaping the benefit of learning grade-level materials

  • 80% of classrooms observed saw students using text to provide evidence, confirm ideas, and clarify and question answers.
  • 74% of classrooms observed saw an increase in teachers having students lead discussion.  

Investing in Educators

Ongoing professional development is critical to the success of teaching and learning. Last year, OUSD teachers had: a three-day foundational professional development, ongoing “Science of Reading” professional development, monthly professional learning for all teachers and literacy coaches, school-based collaboration and coaching, and learning walks and data analysis support.

Icon of a stack of books

97% of classrooms

are using EL Education and Benchmark materials, and nearly three-quarters of teachers are demonstrating evidence of advanced planning.

91% of literacy coaches

rate their professional development as effective/highly effective. Literacy coaches who support teacher teams participate in monthly professional development on facilitating content-focused professional learning communities (PLCs) and site-based coaching.

Leading Educators Leading Educators
"[E]veryone, and I mean everyone, is implementing EL Education and our phonics instruction as it is intended. My teachers believe in this process.”
Carin Geathers, Principal at Burckhalter Elementary School