District Partners

Oakland Unified School District

District Partner 2007, 2015-present

ERS is partnering with Oakland Unified School District to conduct both a high-level and deep-dive analysis of how the district uses its resources to achieve student success, using our System 20/20 and Resource Map assessments. 

“Oakland is a great American city and our students deserve access to quality schools in their neighborhoods and to be taught and inspired by adults committed to their success."

-Antwan Wilson, Superintendent, OUSD

District Facts

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) serves 37,000 students in the Bay Area, of which 73% qualify for free and reduced price lunch, and 30% are English Learners. In 2014 OUSD adopted Pathway to Excellence 2015-2020, a new strategic plan which emphasizes building effective talent (i.e. teachers and leaders), district accountability, and quality community schools.  OUSD will pursue these goals under California’s new Local Control Funding Formula, which grants districts greater flexibility and some new resources to meet the needs of targeted students.

Work Focus


  • System 20/20 Assessment: Survey OUSD’s structures and policies, as well as the actual use of resources like people, time, and money, across seven areas (including Teaching, Leadership, Funding, and others); compare to best practices backed by research and ERS’ experience with districts
  • Resource Map: Conduct interviews with district staff and deep-dive analyses of budget, course schedule, and other data to better understand how OUSD uses its resources in the areas of Funding, Teaching, and School Design


  • District Spending: Identify central cost-cutting opportunities by comparing OUSD's central spending to other districts
  • Funding: Explore ways to maximize the use of categorical funds
  • Resource Use: Provide tools and training about research on effective resource use in schools to help inform and improve the process of creating and reviewing school budgets

Findings and Outcomes

From the 2007 project:

  • Resource Use: In very small schools, principals could not use their resources as flexibly, meaning that the “results-based budgeting” strategy didn't work as well for them.

  • Resource Use-Small Schools: Because OUSD had a number of very small schools, that diverted resources from instruction to school operations and administration. In response, OUSD decided to develop a minimum school size policy to better manage sub-scale schools

  • Resource Use-Enrollment: From this work we developed a framework to understand how enrollment decline affects how urban districts use their resources. ERS then shared this new framework with the broader reform community

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