The state has released the 2015 School Performance Scores (SPS) and School Letter Grades for elementary schools, middle schools, and combination schools (high schools with a K-8 grade). These scores are based on the more rigorous standards and PARCC test for grades 3-8 in English and math and represent a new baseline score for schools.
So … How did we do?
- Even with harder tests and tougher academic standards, New Orleans kept pace with the state and is performing well when compared to other high poverty districts in the state.
- More students are attending A, B, or C graded schools and fewer attend D or F schools.
- Many elementary and middle schools across the state struggled with the new standards, and schools in New Orleans were no exception. More than half of the city’s elementary and middle schools saw a decrease in their SPS, and more than 20% went down at least one letter grade.
New Orleans Kept Pace with the State
The District Performance Score is the most comprehensive measurement of school and student performance. It includes all students (including students that attended schools now closed), all tests, and all grades. The DPS for New Orleans includes all RSD and OPSB schools, both charter and direct-run. It does not include Type 2 charters.
- The District Performance Score for New Orleans remained the same as last year – 83.4, a high C just 1.6 points from a B. Louisiana’s statewide score decreased from 89.2 to 88.8, remaining a B.
View 2015 District Performance Scores (xlsx).
New Orleans Is Performing Better than Other High Poverty Districts
Educate Now! examined enrollment data and District Performance Scores to see which districts are doing the best job meeting the complex educational needs of students living in poverty. Here’s what we found:
- Generally speaking, performance rank is highly correlated to the percentage of poor students in the district.
- There are outliers. Some districts are doing a particularly good job (their district rank is higher than their poverty rank) and are outperforming other districts with similar or even lower poverty rates.
New Orleans outperformed twenty other parishes with lower student poverty rates. It is one of only three districts in the state that accomplished this.
- New Orleans has the 9th highest rate of economically disadvantaged students (61 out of 69 districts), yet it ranks 41st in student performance.
St. Bernard Parish also deserves a large shout out for being #1 in the state, outperforming 38 districts with lower poverty rates.
|St. Bernard Parish||78%||50||12||+38|
|West Carroll Parish||73%||40||18||+22|
|Orleans Parish (OPSB+RSD)||84%||61||41||+20|
|St. Mary Parish||71%||36||21||+15|
|St. John the Baptist Parish||81%||53||39||+14|
View a Poverty and Performance Comparison for all Louisiana districts.
Fewer Students in Failing Schools
Although overall performance was unchanged, individual school scores varied a great deal from 2014 to 2015. Of the 68 schools that received a letter grade in 2014 and in 2015 and are still open under the same operator:
- Almost half had a letter grade change.
- 18 schools went up at least one letter grade and 14 went down.
Grade distribution improved slightly, with more students enrolled in A, B, or C schools and fewer students enrolled in D or F schools. This translated to over 600 fewer students enrolled in a failing school in the fall of 2014 compared to the fall of 2013.
The percent of students was calculated using 10/1/13 and 10/1/14 enrollment. For schools with a T grade, Educate Now! assigned a letter grade based their SPS.
As part of the phase in to higher standards, the state is maintaining the same letter grade distribution for 2014, 2015, and 2016 that was in place in 2013 to give schools time to transition to the higher standard.
This transition has created challenges for many elementary and middle schools across the state. While the grading scale for combination schools wasn’t curved, and for high schools was curved only slightly, the scale for K-8 schools had to be curved for all but A schools. Statewide, around 100 K-8 schools had letter grades affected by the curved grading scale.
|F||0 – 45.1||0 – 47||0 – 49.9|
|D||45.2 – 66.1||47.1 – 69.9||50 – 69.9|
|C||66.2 – 83.8||unchanged||70 – 84.9|
|B||83.9 – 99.9||unchanged||85 – 99.9|
|A||unchanged||unchanged||100 – 150|
In New Orleans, of the 74 schools that are still open in 2015-16 and under the same operator:
- 7 schools benefited from the curve.
- 40% of elementary/middle schools saw a gain in their SPS, while 60% had a lower SPS.
- 9 elementary/middle schools went up at least one letter grade and 12 went down.
K-8 School Performance Scores are based on:
- Assessments: How students performed on the PARCC tests for English and math and the LEAP/iLeap test for science and social studies
- Progress points: How well the students below basic improved from one year to the next
- Dropout/Credit Accumulation Index (for schools with an 8th grade): Looks at how many students transition to high school and how prepared they are
School Accountability – Migrating to Mastery
In 1999, when the state began K-8 accountability, an “A” school was a school where, on average, all students were Basic.
The state is now beginning a ten year process that will phase in a new definition of an “A” school. In 2025, an “A” school will need to have, on average, all students performing at a Mastery level. The state is increasing both the expected performance level, by moving from Basic to Mastery, and using more rigorous standards and tests to define the performance level.
Based on these first year results, New Orleans begins the journey to Mastery performing better than other districts in the state that also serve a large number of economically disadvantaged students, but we face a long road to get our students to Mastery. I believe we are up to the challenge!
For most of our educators, tomorrow begins a well-earned winter break. Educate Now! thanks them for their hard work and wishes everyone a joyous holiday season.
Update 12/19/2015: The table showing the 2015 Grading Scales was updated to show that the high school grading scale was slightly curved, not uncurved as previously reported.