Skip To Main Content
AUSD's Scholar and Staff Advisor Team
A new "Scholar Staff and Student Advisor" program launched by AUSD’s Office of Equity this year is providing case managers for students who could benefit from extra academic, social, and emotional supports. Based on preliminary results, the program is helping students become more engaged in their learning and have better academic outcomes.
In 2019-20, the California Department of Education identified Alameda Unified School District as one of 120 districts across the state showing “significant disproportionality.”
Specifically, for three years in a row, African-American and Multi-Ethnic students in AUSD had been identified as children with disabilities at a higher rate than their peers of other races.
AUSD responded to this finding with a comprehensive “root cause analysis” that examined the ways in which the district and its schools have been unable to provide African-American students with the environments and supports they need to have better outcomes.
This, in turn, led to a robust “Comprehensive Coordinated Early Intervening Services” (CCEIS) Plan that was designed to interrupt that disproportionality, and, in general, change outcomes for the better for African-American, Black, Multi-Ethnic, and Latino students. The plan includes a focus on AUSD’s early education program, kindergarten to 3rd grade, and 6th and 7th grade students, including by:
  • Providing more professional development in culturally and linguistically responsive classroom practices and family engagement
  •  Offering tutoring services
  • Creating site-based cultural affinity spaces for students and their families
  • Diversifying student literature
  • Strengthening MTSS systems
  • Revising AUSD’s discipline matrix to include clear expectations, restorative practices, and consequences for behavior not aligned with expectations.
The Focal Scholar Program
In addition, in 2021-22, AUSD’s Office of Equity launched a “Focal Scholar Program” for students and families at Love, Otis, Paden, Bay Farm, and Ruby Bridges schools. Students were selected if they were not meeting benchmarks on the STAR Reading and Math Assessments, were chronically absent, or had discipline incidents.   As part of the program, site-based teams made up of principals, teachers, intervention leads, and support staff developed individualized learning plans with students and their families to help identify student specific goals. Families then met quarterly with teachers to monitor progress on the goals set early in the school year.
The Scholar Staff and Student Advisor Program
In 2023-24, the Office of Equity launched a Scholar Staff and Student Advisor program, to build on the previous model and further support Focal Scholars. Advisors are placed at four schools across AUSD – Maya Lin School, Ruby Bridges Elementary School, Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School, and Wood Middle School and work with about 20 students each to help set and achieve academic and social-emotional goals. Advisors also provide in class support, small group interventions, and guidance for teachers working with scholars.
That support can include working on assignments, checking up on absent students, calling families, and talking to students about strategies for reaching their academic goals. The advisors also work with teachers to help them better meet their scholar students' needs. All support is designed after thoughtfully considering the student’s data, including test results, attendance, and behavior, and partnering with the families to understand their child’s needs.
“There’s a direct benefit to having adults in your life directly supporting you academically, socially, and emotionally,” says Shamar Edwards, Senior Director of Equity and African-American, Black, and Multi-Ethnic Achievement. “Having an advocate and a champion can be crucial for students who for too long have not been well served.”
Early Results: Improving Scores, More Engagement
Preliminary data shows that the program is indeed helping the students it is designed to serve. Of the 209 scholars across AUSD’s K-8 schools:
  • 94.7% attended school 80% or more of the time, marking a clear increase from the fall. .
  • 94.74 percent have not been suspended.
  • 50% of the kindergarteners “exceeded expectations,” in the Fountas & Pinnell reading assessment, 30% “approached expectations," and 20% were designated “pre-readers.”  
  • 71% of first grade focal scholar students are above the 50th percentile rank in the 1st grade STAR reading assessment, while 14% scored in the 10th to the 25th percentile.
  • Scholar students in 2nd to 7th grade increased their scores in English Language Arts, with the biggest gains being moving students of the below 10th percentile to the 10th to 25th percentile.
  • Scores in Math remained relatively stable, with the highest gains being in students moving from 50th percentile to the 25th to 50th percentile.
In addition, the advisors report, students are experiencing improved confidence and attitudes, more engagement in the classroom, and better school-to-family connections.
“As educators we are responsible for creating a learning environment that expects all students to learn and excel,” Edwards says. “That includes Black students, Latino students, students receiving special education services, and English learners. These students are in our care from 8am to 3pm every day; the gaps that have persisted can be closed with intentional effort and focus. In fact, it is our moral imperative to take all students from wherever they are to the next level. Giving differentiated resources to differentiated needs is the true definition of equity.”
For next year, the team hopes to develop more math supports for students and continue to build awareness of and trust in the program, while also considering how to expand it. “The state CCEIS mandate started this work, but I hope we’ll internalize this work, and it comes to be seen as best practice,” Edwards says.