Educating Black Students: New Orleans Outperforms Other States

New Orleans black elementary students outperform black elementary students in other states

This past spring, Louisiana, along with ten other states, gave students in grades 3-8 common core-aligned PARCC tests in English and math. These tests are more rigorous than the old LEAP tests, and a student scoring Mastery is considered on a path to be college and career ready.

One of the advantages of using PARCC is the ability to compare performance across states. Educate Now! examined performance data by sub-group for most of the eleven states that took PARCC tests last year.

Except for Massachusetts, New Orleans’ black students consistently outperformed black students in the other states in almost every grade and subject.

The PARCC data is presented by grade and by subject. Below are the 8th grade results. Educate Now! picked 8th grade, as it is the culminating grade for most schools in the city. Only Massachusetts outperformed New Orleans in 8th grade English and math.

Percentage of 8th Grade Black Students Scoring Mastery or Above

English
 
Math
Massachusetts
45%
  Massachusetts
33%
New Orleans
33%
  New Orleans
28%
New Jersey
30%
  Louisiana
18%
Louisiana
27%
  District of Columbia
15%
Colorado
26%
  New Jersey
13%
Cross-State*
24%
  Cross-State*
13%
Maryland
23%
  Colorado
11%
Rhode Island
19%
  Maryland
10%
District of Columbia
18%
  Arkansas
6%
Arkansas
17%
  Rhode Island
6%

* Includes Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island.

New Orleans performance relative to the rest of Louisiana

8th Grade English and Math

New Orleans’ 8th grade scores are significantly better than the state average (31% in New Orleans vs. 23% statewide scoring Mastery or above).

In fact, New Orleans’ black students performed better in 8th grade than in 3rd grade, while the state and other comparable districts’ scores fell relative to 3rd grade.

Percentage of Black Students Scoring Mastery or Above in English and Math
2015_PARCC_Black_Performance_by_Grade_Parish3

So, why are our students performing so much better in 8th grade?

Educate Now! believes these results reflect the impact of great teaching. Each year, New Orleans students are getting more than a year of learning, so over time, they outperform similar students in other states/parishes (the impact of “value-added” or effect size).

Grades 3-8 English and Math

New Orleans is ranked 11th highest in the state out of 69 school districts. In New Orleans, 25% of black students in grades 3-8 scored Mastery or above in English and math, 4 points above the state average of 21%.

These results are particularly impressive when you consider that in 2004, the first year the state released test results by sub-group, New Orleans was ranked last in the state in black student performance.

Are these results real?

New Orleans performance relative to other participating PARCC states is strong and aligns with other data points we are seeing, like the ACT. New Orleans’ ACT composite score for black students is higher than the national average for black students, even with Louisiana requiring all high school students to take the test.

Louisiana did choose paper and pencil over online testing, which could have improved scores relative to other states. Students who took the 2014-15 PARCC exams with paper and pencil tended to score higher than those who took the tests online.

What about cheating? Last year, there were 39,000 students in grades 3-8 attending 58 schools across the city. While there could be some isolated cheating, Educate Now! does not believe there is systemic cheating across different schools that would impact these scores. And remember, these tests are high stakes throughout Louisiana and for the other states – not just for schools and students in New Orleans. Every state will likely have some testing irregularities.

Closing the gap

While New Orleans’ black students are outperforming the state average for black students, they are still below the state average for all students.

Percentage Scoring Mastery or Above in English and Math
2015_PARCC_NO_Black_Student_Performance_NO_and_State 
Educate Now! is hopeful New Orleans is on the right track to closing this achievement gap and looks forward to celebrating when our black students are outperforming the state average for all students.

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