ICYMI: Proposed Changes for Louisiana Schools

In Cased You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

Department Releases Draft Louisiana ESSA Plan

State Supt. John White released a draft framework for how Louisiana can comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind last year. White’s plan includes changes in how public schools are rated, fewer tests, new assistance for persistently struggling schools, and better teacher preparation.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards named his own panel to do a separate review of the state’s public school policies. White says he looks forward to sharing his ideas with them. “This is not a political document,” he said. “We cannot go back to the political squabbles of old.”

White’s draft plan is set for discussion at nine meetings in October and November, including public gatherings and education panels. You can read the plan on the Department of Education’s website.

Divided Over Charter Schools

The African-American community is divided over charter schools. This month, the board of the NAACP will vote on a resolution, approved by its members, calling for a moratorium on new charters. Black Lives Matter took a similar position in their first-ever policy agenda.

In response, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) helped start the Charters Work campaign and sent a letter to the NAACP, signed by 160 Black educators, advocates, lawmakers and religious leaders asking them to reject the moratorium. This group includes Cheryl Brown Henderson, the youngest daughter of the plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Judge Rules Against Lusher and Lake Forest

Judge rules against Lusher and Lake Forest on differentiated school funding 

A federal judge has ruled against Lusher and Lake Forest and their attempt to halt changes to the differentiated funding formula. In the opinion of Judge Jane Triche Milazzo:

  1. The schools would not experience irreparable harm if the new formula was implemented.
  2. Changing the formula did not violate the schools’ charter contracts.

The judge declined to rule on whether the funding formula had been adopted legally, saying state courts should consider the matter first. 

Last spring, OPSB and RSD worked together to develop a unified per-student funding formula, an important stage in returning RSD schools to local control. The unified formula emphasizes students with disabilities, with a small extra amount for each gifted student. Lusher and Lake Forest, with their large gifted populations and small number of students with disabilities, will receive less money than they would have under the old formula.

The schools say they are considering their options at this time.

Look How Far We’ve Come: OPSB Approves School Unification Plan

“Just Think How Far We’ve Come”

Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr., August 29, 2016

The Orleans Parish School Board unanimously approved a Unification Plan outlining the return of schools to the elected board. 

With the adoption of this plan, the school board has embraced a shared vision for the unified school district that builds upon the changes since Katrina and commits to continuing improvement.

The Vision

A locally elected school board will govern a system of schools in a district that is over 90% charter schools, provides school choice for all families, and expressly commits to ensuring equity and recognizing the need for differentiated resources based on student need.

A slide from the superintendent’s presentation to the school board captures this vision:  


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ICYMI: Updates for September 12, 2016

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

National Headlines

To graduate from high school, Colorado requires students show proficiency in English and math. Districts are revising their graduation requirements, allowing students to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of ways. The state guidelines provide a “menu” of options, including SAT scores; passing a concurrent enrollment college-level course; earning a score of 2 or higher out of 5 on an Advanced Placement test; or completing a college thesis-like capstone project demonstrating knowledge of a subject.

A new study shows low-income kindergartners are entering school with stronger math and reading skills, narrowing the large academic gap with their more affluent peers.

The public continues to support many school reforms, according to Education Next’s 10th annual opinion poll, including charter schools, federally mandated testing, and teacher tenure reform. Backing for Common Core and school vouchers, however, fell to new lows in 2016.

School districts are working to identify homeless students, including those “hidden” in other people’s homes or living in motels or cars. More than 1.3 million students are considered homeless in the U.S. A new federal law requires states to break out performance data for homeless students, in addition to other sub-groups.

Closer to Home

In Bossier Parish, hundreds of individuals with disabilities who didn’t graduate from high school could receive their diploma retroactively. Bossier Schools is the pilot district for the implementation of a new state law that says individuals with disabilities can petition their local school system if they were denied a diploma solely for failing to pass the state’s standardized exit exam.

A new bridge program between the University of New Orleans and Delgado Community College should help more students enroll in college and finish their degrees by making it easier for UNO applicants to complete initial coursework at Delgado (if necessary) and easier for UNO students to earn an associate degree at Delgado if they don’t complete their bachelor’s at UNO.

BESE member Kira Orange Jones has been promoted to a new position at Teach for America. She will be leaving her position as executive director for TFA New Orleans to supervise a cohort of TFA executive directors across the Midwest and the South.

Children of Katrina 11 Years Later

The number of children in New Orleans, particularly African-American girls and boys, has fallen steadily since Hurricane Katrina, according to a recent study from the Newcomb College Institute. Boys and young men under age 20 made up 31 percent of the African-American male population in 2014, down from 39 percent in 2000. Similarly, girls and young women under age 20 accounted for 26 percent of the African-American female population, down from 33 percent in 2000.

In this video from Huffington Post, students from Edna Karr High School reflect on Hurricane Katrina and share how their charter school has given them hope and helped them to succeed.

ICYMI: Facts on Statewide ACT Results

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI) … Your mini news clippings

2016 ACT: Just the Facts

A new fact sheet on ACT performance from the state Department of Education shows Louisiana is closing the performance gap with the national average. While the nation’s average composite score declined 0.2 since 2014, Louisiana’s increased 0.3, from 19.2 in 2014 to 19.5 in 2016.

The state ranked 13th out of 18 states that require all students take the ACT and 3rd among the seven southern states where the ACT is mandatory. Nationally, Louisiana ranked 44th in 2016, up from 48th in 2014. For information on New Orleans’ ACT results, view Educate Now!’s 2016 ACT analysis.

OPSB Election Updates

Cynthia Cade decided not to appeal, which means she is officially disqualified from the race for OPSB’s 2nd District (Gentilly, New Orleans East). Ethan Ashley will become the District 2 school board member effective 1/1/17. Ashley is the 4th school board member who will serve this coming term without an election, joining John Brown, Sarah Usdin and Ben Kleban.

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Helping Schools, Students and Teachers Affected by the Floods

The recent devastating floods have impacted the lives of students, families, and school staff across South Louisiana. Here are some ways you can help:

Donate Clothing and Supplies

OPSB, RSD and New Schools for New Orleans are collecting school supplies, new or gently used school uniforms, and gift cards for school supplies and/or uniforms. Click here for more information on the items they are collecting and drop off dates and locations.

RSD is also collecting supplies for families. Click here to view their Wish List and information on drop off dates and location.

Stand for Children Louisiana has created an Amazon Wish List for families, educators, and classrooms in need. Purchased items can be shipped to Stand for Children’s New Orleans address for distribution.

New Schools for Baton Rouge (NSBR) has created an Amazon Wish List with items requested by schools and families in their network. If you purchase an item on the list, it will be shipped to NSBR in Baton Rouge and they will distribute it to the school.

NSBR is also accepting donations of school supplies and clothing at 100 Lafayette Street, Suite B251, Baton Rouge, LA 70801. For more information, call 225-384-0271.

Donate Funds

Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (A+PEL) has set up a Disaster Relief Fund to assist teachers with replacing classroom supplies lost in the flooding. 100% of donations go directly to teachers. 

New Schools for Baton Rouge has established a School Relief Fund to help schools in their network as they work to repair flooded facilities and replace damaged textbooks and classroom supplies. 

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has created a Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. The foundation is sending staff members across South Louisiana to find where needs are the greatest and to ensure your donation goes quickly and directly to nonprofits that are doing the most for people affected by the floods.

The NOLA Pay It Forward Fund, activated by the Mayor of New Orleans in partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation, will provide resources for the early relief and rebuilding efforts of communities impacted by the floods.

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K-8 Student Performance Improves

The state has released the results for the 2015-16 LEAP tests for grades 3-8. This is the second year of new tests aligned to more rigorous standards. 

How Did New Orleans Do?

  • New Orleans student performance improved, but lagged the state.
  • New Orleans outperformed the state average for African-American students and English Language Learners.

Performance: All Students

  • The percentage of New Orleans students reaching the state’s new proficiency goal of Mastery or above grew from 28% to 31%, a gain of 3 points; the state improved by 5 points. 
  • The percentage of New Orleans students performing Basic or above grew from 60% to 61%, a gain of 1 point; the state improved by 2 points.

Gains in LEAP Performance in English and Math


These results are for English and math only. To view all subjects, view the state’s 2016 Tests by District Report.

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News Alert: Cynthia Cade disqualified from School Board race

Latest on OPSB Elections

One week after qualifying ended for November’s OPSB elections, one incumbent has been disqualified and three candidates have been elected without opposition.

Cynthia Cade was disqualified by a Civil District Court Judge who said she did not file her tax forms and signed false certification papers claiming that she had. Cade, who represents District 2 (Gentilly, New Orleans East), has 24 hours to appeal the decision. If the decision is not reversed, Ethan Ashley of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans will become the representative for District 2 when the new board takes office in January. 

Ben Kleban was the latest candidate to be elected outright when his opponent, Eldon Anderson, withdrew. Kleban, who is the founder and president of the New Orleans College Prep charter school network, will represent the 5th District (Uptown).
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YouthForce NOLA Celebrates Successful 2016 YouthForce Internship

YouthForce Internship (YFI), a partnership between Educate Now!, The City of New Orleans, and Juma Ventures, provides 60 hours of paid soft skills and business etiquette training followed by 90 hours of paid work experience with a local employer to rising juniors and seniors from eight participating high schools. Students are placed with employers in one of three high-wage, high-demand fields: bio/health, digital media/tech, and skilled crafts. Piloted last summer with 17 students and 12 employers, YFI scaled this summer to 61 students and 34 employers. Three of the participating employers have offered their interns continued employment through the fall.

Special thanks to Bloomberg Philanthropies, The City of New Orleans, JPMorgan Chase, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and The WK Kellogg Foundation. This program would not be possible without their generous support. 

We would like to also take this opportunity to thank our employer partners and congratulate our YFI students on the successful completion of their internships:

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High School Performance: ACT and EOC Test Results

The state has released ACT and End of Course Test results for 2015-16. The results are disappointing and mark a pause in the steady progress we’ve made toward closing the gap with the state average.

  • The average ACT Composite score for New Orleans (OPSB + RSD) remained flat at 18.8, while the state average improved slightly from 19.4 to 19.5. New Orleans’ district rank fell from 36th to 37th out of 69 parishes.
  • The percent of students scoring 20 or higher on the ACT (a requirement for TOPS 4-year scholarships) fell from 38% to 35%. The state average remained flat at 45%.
  • The percent of students scoring Excellent or Good on End of Course Tests (EOCs), fell from 61% to 58%. The state average remained flat at 62%.

The good news:

  • New Orleans outperformed most other high-poverty districts (more than 75% economically disadvantaged students) on both the ACT and EOCs. Looking at the percent of seniors scoring 18 or higher on the ACT, only three high-poverty districts performed better than New Orleans – St. Bernard, Jefferson and Catahoula. Looking at the percent scoring Excellent or Good on the EOCs, only 2 high-poverty districts performed better – St. Bernard and Jefferson.
  • Black students in New Orleans outperformed the national and state averages for black students, with a local ACT Composite score of 17.8, compared to 17.1 nationally1 and 17.4 for the state.

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