While his most recent jobs have been helping rescue troubled urban school districts, Ward, who is bilingual, has also taught in Venezuela and Columbia. He began his education career as a preschool and kindergarten teacher, first in his hometown of Boston, then in nearby Cambridge.
Dr. Ward has served as the state-appointed administrator for Oakland Unified School District since June, 2003. In Oakland, Ward was appointed by State Superintendent Jack O'Connell to help the school district eliminate a $60 million budget shortfall. Under his leadership the district accomplished that, while simultaneously showing greater improvement on the state's Academic Performance Index than any school system in California. Just prior to Ward's leaving to accept the San Diego position, the Oakland district passed a $435 million school facilities bond measure with more than 77 percent of the vote.
Prior to his three years in Oakland, Ward served as the state-appointed administrator in the Compton Unified School District for more than six years (1996-2003). At the time Ward took the Compton appointment, the school district was $20 million in debt and its standardized test scores were among the lowest of the state's 1,000 school districts. Under Ward's leadership, the school district repaid its bankruptcy loan to the state in 2001. Test scores in Compton Unified improved five consecutive years during Ward's tenure there, while the high school dropout rate decreased, college admissions increased and Advance Placement course offerings at the district's high schools expanded.
Randy Ward has served as an Area Superintendent and elementary school principal in Long Beach Unified School District prior to his Compton appointment. Before moving to Long Beach Unified for his first administrative position, Ward worked in Medellin, Columbia (1983-84, teaching high school and adult students); Caracas, Venezuela (1986-87, teaching 5th graders), and both Cambridge (1979-82, 1984-86, 1987-88) and Boston, (1978-79).
Dr. Ward earned his B.S. from Tufts University in 1978, majoring in Early Childhood Education and Mental Health. In 1983 he earned an Ed.M. from Harvard University in School Leadership. In 1989 He earned a second Ed.M. from University of Massachusetts in Educational Administration; and his Ed.D. from USC in 1992 in Policy, Planning and Administration. Dr. Ward is married and has two young children.