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Effective Teaching

Our Effective Teaching Campaign is a long-term commitment to supporting effective teaching policies in Oakland. 

Research confirms what many educators, parents and students know intuitively -- no other in-school factor has more of an impact on a student's achievement than the effectiveness of their teacher. 

Some of the greatest actions we can take as a community are to support our teachers, ensure all students have access to effective teaching, and our highest needs students have equitable access to our most highly effective teachers.

In this campaign GO works to develop our network of parent and teacher leaders to advance five core policy goals to support effective teaching in Oakland public schools:

  • Assignment: Ensuring that teacher assignment policies increase student access to effective teaching and allow school communities a voice in determining the composition of their staff
  • Compensation: Prioritize increasing teacher compensation to ensure that OUSD attracts and retains highly-skilled educators
  • Evaluation System: Creating a fair evaluation system that includes multiple measures of good teaching and student growth while emphasizing professional growth and support for teachers
  • Leadership and Career Pathways: Creating teacher career and leadership pathways that ensure that Oakland's best teachers deeply influence policy and decision-making, and lead to greater responsibility, compensation, and mentoring of other teachers
  • Principal Development: Ensuring that principals are given the training and support necessary to provide strong instructional leadership and fair, meaningful evaluations of staff that increase the capacity of teachers to meet the needs of students

We are organizing campaign activities to focus on three strategy areas: 

  • Increasing teacher leadership
  • Increasing community leadership
  • Organizational research and advocacy

Click on the Effective Teaching link on the Hot Topics menu to the right to read about the latest activities and information in this campaign.

Increasing teacher leadership

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GO's Teacher Policy Fellowship is a yearlong, stipended opportunity for a small cohort of current Oakland teachers to Learn, Think, and Lead about the future of education. 

We are committed to the principle that students will be better served if teachers are deeply involved with decision making. The goal of this fellowship is to develop and facilitate a community of policy fellows who are fully engaged with current leadership opportunities and brokering additional opportunities where none currently exist. 

Read more about GO's Teacher Policy Fellowship here.

Increasing community leadership


Parent Leadership Workshops
GO Leadership Center hosts Parent Leadership Workshops by the invitation of parent or community groups to help parents learn more about the importance of effective teaching, and how to support teachers within their schools and across our public school system in order to provide the best possible education for students.

To learn more about Parent Leadership Workshops or request one for your school or group, please contact Mirella Rangel, Director of Community Engagement, by email at

Organizational research and advocacy


NCTQ study on teacher policies and practices in Oakland
What is the one authority OUSD principals say they need more than anything else? How well are Oakland's 2,640 teachers paid compared to neighboring districts? Does tenure matter? How diverse is Oakland's teaching workforce? What supports are Oakland teachers asking for to improve the classroom experience for students?

You can now find answers to these questions, and many more, in an in-depth 2013 study that examines teacher quality policies and practices in OUSD conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) called "Teacher Quality Roadmap: Improving Policies and Practices in Oakland."

The study was commissioned by a diverse group of Oakland social justice, education, community and labor organizations that formed the Effective Teaching Coalition: Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), Youth Together, Youth Uprising, GO Public Schools Leadership Center, SEIU Local 1021, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Education Trust-West.

Click here to download the study.

Rolling out the New Common Core Tests

March 31, 2014

Beginning in late April, Oakland students will be taking a computer-based state test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), replacing the CST "STAR" tests. This is an important milestone in the shift this year to the Common Core standards, which are designed to better prepare students for college and career. 

To increase community understanding about these new standards, and what this new way of testing means for Oakland families and educators, GO Public Schools Leadership Center is publishing a series of articles, The Big Shift: Following the Change to Common Core Standards in Oakland.

This year, California becomes one of 44 states to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English and math. The Common Core is meant to raise the bar. Nearly 60 percent of first-year college students are not ready for college-level work and have to take remedial courses in English or math, lowering college success rates. Common Core standards are designed to be "college ready" and career ready, better preparing students to be independent, critical readers and writers in English, better problem solvers in math.

With the Common Core comes a new way of assessing student performance. For OUSD, that the goal of adopting the new standards is to: "Ensure all students graduate from high school with 21st century learning skills so that they are prepared to succeed in college and career." In some states across the country, the transition to the Common Core has sparked controversy. Our focus is ensuring the initiative increases college and career readiness for Oakland students.

In October 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that replaced the old CST "STAR" test with a new computer-based test meant to assess a student's critical thinking and communication skills.  

Computer-based tests bring about learning and equity issues in Oakland. The move to a computer-based test also highlighted a grave need in the district for computers. Some schools are severely lacking in technology -- a district staff presentation on the need for more computers included a photo of Fremont High students hunched over in chairs as they worked on their senior projects on their own smart phones.

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OUSD Presentation; Public Hearing: Funding for One-Time Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

The new tests, which are practice field tests this year, also represent a big technical shift for schools and teachers, who for the past 15 years have administered the state test one way, and will now replace passing out Scantrons with being in charge of a room full of laptop computers. (Student test results will also not be available this year, as the state is using data from this year's practice tests to refine the test for next year.)

Before the classroom teachers administer the test, they must be trained. And that training will be conducted by other teachers -- "Instructional Technology Teacher Leaders (ITTLs)" who were being trained by district staff in March, and then take what they have learned back to their schools in early April, along the same model of central professional development for lead teachers in the Common Core standards themselves. Testing then begins on April 21. This is a complex transition and schools should expect some ramp-up year challenges, which is probably reflected in the fact that in GO's recent community survey, only 33 percent of teacher respondents were satisfied with the Common Core transition.

We sat in on a recent Chromebook training for ITTLs, in a classroom at Cole in West Oakland. Two rows of desks were set up, and teachers were given a packet of information and a Dell Google Chromebook laptop computer, and followed the instructions of presenters from the district at the front of the room. We sat next to two veteran teachers.

Both teachers have been spending a portion of their afternoons recently learning new skills: As ITTLs for their schools, they are being trained both on how to administer the SBAC field test for students, and how to train teachers back at their schools to administer that test.

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OUSD teachers undergo Chromebook training in late March.

"This is new to me," said one of the teachers, who has 20 years of teaching experience, as she sat at a desk with a new Chromebook open in front of her, shortly before an afternoon training session began. The computers in the school computer lab, which she runs, are all made by Apple and have a different operating system. 

The Chromebooks were purchased by OUSD as part of a $6.9 million grant from the state for Common Core implementation. The computers run on the Google platform, and do not require an additional secure browser to be turned into a testing machine, theoretically making it easier for teachers to administer the tests.

This teacher told us that while this training process can feel like "the blind leading the blind" since she is learning all new information she'll then need to take back to her school's staff, she said the "big changes" are welcome. 

"The Chromebooks change teaching and learning," she said. "The (Chromebooks) are not just for the test, but ours to use."

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