The state has released ACT and End of Course test scores for 2016-17. New Orleans schools (OPSB + RSD) held steady on the ACT, but the results for End of Course Tests were disappointing.
The average ACT Composite Score was 18.9, the same as in 2015-16. The state’s Composite Score increased slightly from 19.5 to 19.6.
The percentage of students scoring Excellent or Good on End of Course tests (EOCs) went down from 58% in 2015-16 to 52% in 2016-17. The state fell from 62% to 61%.
The percentage of students scoring 18 or above on the ACT went up slightly to 54%, a 1 point increase from last year and a 5 point increase since 2013. The state also increased 1 percentage point over last year, from 62% to 63%, and 3 points since 2013.
Gains in Percent of Students Scoring 18 or Above on the ACT
New Orleans’ African American students continue to outperform the state, with an ACT Composite Score of 17.8 compared to a state score of 17.5. The national Composite Score for African American students last year was 17. (National data is not yet available for 2016-17.)
The state has released the results of the 2016-17 LEAP tests for grades 3-8. While a number of New Orleans schools showed improvement, fewer students overall met the new more rigorous Mastery standard, and the city fell in state rankings.
New Orleans student performance in English decreased from 35% to 34% Mastery in English (-1) and from 27% to 25% Mastery in math (-2).
Statewide, the percent of students scoring Mastery in English improved from 41% to 42% (+1) and dropped in math, from 34% to 32% (-2).
New Orleans outperformed the state average for African-American students and English Language Learners.
New Orleans’ district rank fell from 47 to 50.
LEAP Performance All Students 2015 to 2017 English and Math Combined
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Local Innovation in the National Spotlight
The Carnegie Corporation profiled EdNavigator, a local nonprofit that works with companies to identify and support working parents who need help navigating the school system and advocating for their children.
Researchers estimate that New Orleans children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at rates three times the national average. NPR highlighted Crocker College Prep, one of five charter schools in a collective working to become more trauma-informed, and the Christian Science Monitorvisited the New Orleans Therapeutic Day Program, a school that gives children with severe trauma and emotional disturbance a safe place to learn.
The Orleans Parish School Board and Recovery School District have released the latest 4-year cohort graduation rates. The citywide 4-year graduation rate was 72.1% for the class of 2016,1 a drop of 3.3 percentage points from 2015. Twenty percent of the students who did not graduate in four years remained in school and were enrolled for a fifth year in the fall of 2016.
Statewide, the graduation rate fell from 77.5% to 77%.
While the graduation rate of 72.1% is a huge improvement from the 54% graduation rate in 2005, these results are still disappointing. We are not graduating 1 in 4 students, even including students who take longer than 4 years to graduate, and the gap to the state average is getting larger, not smaller.
Need to Get Better
The unification of the schools under OPSB represents a new chapter in public education and the opportunity for some new strategies. To improve the graduation rate, we need to:
Begin using data to identify drop outs in real time. By October, we can identify students who should be enrolled in school but are not. This information needs to be generated by the central office, as any individual school does not know if a student has dropped out or decided to attend another school. Once we know in a timely fashion which students dropped out, the district can partner with schools and other agencies to find these students and get them re-enrolled.
Diversify our high schools. We need more alternative high schools to better address struggling students’ needs. We also need more high schools that offer meaningful career-technical education for interested students.
Work to expand access to mental and behavioral health care for students before and during high school. Schools cannot do it alone.
This chart from OBSB’s report shows roughly one quarter of respondents in both surveys would give the public school system an A or B grade, and around 65 percent of respondents in both surveys would give the public school system an A, B, or C.
The Trump administration continues to promote school choice, including charter schools and vouchers. Voucher opponents will use a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education of the Washington, DC, voucher program as ammunition to oppose vouchers. This study found students lost ground in their first year in private schools (compared to non-voucher students), as have recent studies in Louisiana, Ohio, and Indiana. Charter schools fared much better in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual high school rankings, with 6 of the top ten and 34 of the top hundred schools being charters.
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BESE Approves White’s ESSA Plan
After a contentious, six hour hearing, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved Supt. John White’s plan for overhauling Louisiana schools – the first step in complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). BESE also approved submitting the plan to federal officials for review in April and not delaying until September as the governor wanted.
The accountability framework adopted by BESE will:
Increase the weight given to student academic growth in calculating school performance scores to 25% and include the growth of all students
Eliminate the curve (which freezes the percent of D and F schools at the 2013 level) and replace it with a phase in of the new standards
Trim standardized testing
Devote some federal Title One funds to struggling schools in rural areas
Critics of the plan called for a five month delay, saying there should be more input from stakeholders, but White said his agency has held 136 meetings on ESSA and there will still be months to get input and debate changes to the plan before it would be implemented in the 2017-18 school year.
Patrick Dobard Leaves the RSD
Patrick Dobard is stepping down as superintendent of the Recovery School District. Dobard, a New Orleans native, will continue his work for public school students as CEO of New Schools for New Orleans. During his six years as head of the RSD, schools not only improved academically but also developed essential structures such as the OneApp enrollment system, unified expulsion procedures, and the systemic reduction in out-of-school suspensions.
YouthForce NOLA Inaugural Career Expo Draws Over 2000 Students, 60 Businesses
YouthForce NOLA teamed up with Junior Achievement of Greater New Orleans and Greater New Orleans, Inc., Thursday, March 9, to host a Career Expo to pair public high school sophomores with health science, information technology, and skilled craft employers.
Xavier University’s Convocation Center buzzed with energy as students engaged with employers to learn about different industries and careers.
“The Career Expo is a great motivational tool for our students,” said Warren Easton Charter HighSchool CEO/Principal Alexina Medley. Continue reading →
The President is considering a federal tax credit scholarship program that would channel billions to families who want to send their children to private schools, including religious schools. Critics on the right worry this would increase the federal government’s role in education and pressure states to standardize state tax credit programs. Public school advocates say it’s a voucher program in disguise that would divert tax dollars from struggling public schools.