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Oakland USD: Promotion Equity & Access for Families

BY The SchoolMint Collective

Breaking Down Barriers. Empowering Families.

School choice was expanded in Oakland, CA, and the benefits intended for families resulted in a complex school market. School choice can empower families to choose the most appropriate educational setting for their child but, for many families unable to participate due to the lack of quality information and complicated, inefficient enrollment processes the barriers can be insurmountable.

OUSD stepped up to the challenge and with some changes reaffirmed its commitment to promote equitable access for all students and provide better access to high-quality school information for families.

Technology Aids Social Justice

OUSD turned to technology to power its equity-and-accessibility-driven mission of helping families discover, learn about school offerings, and apply to attend. These are some of the powerful initiatives, guiding principals and actions taken — vital to their success:

    1. Minimize the occurrences of access to quality schools mirroring family privilege
      • Adopt an online & multilingual application and waitlist platform, Increase on-demand access to the enrollment process
      • Shifted staff from data entry to data verification with families
      • Decrease the possibility for in-depth appointments
    2. Improve access to data insights to address inequalities in real-time
      • Used waitlists to increase diversity in placements
    3. Where static policies reflect and reinforce historic inequities:
      • Use  a lottery algorithm adaptable to changing enrollment priorities
      • Use lottery sandboxes to test pragmatic “what if…” outcome analyses offline
    4. Unite enrollment & portfolio management as tools for reform & social change
      • Feeder patterns and cohort cohesion is easily analyzed
      • Program design and location become increasingly data-driven
      • Historic enrollment data and long-range projections are closely tied to portfolio decisions

The Results Are In

With SchoolMint, OUSD created an easily accessible, online, multilingual application process for their community. They have and introduced families to schools they might have never considered and relationships between families and schools are stronger. Families who previously were not able to communicate about or track applications have a greater sense of ownership and clarity and are among the highest levels of participation.