K-8 Test Scores Released

K-8 Student Performance Stalls

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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ICYMI: Local Innovation in National Spotlight

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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.

New Orleans’ own unCommon Construction won a national Teach For America 2017 Social Innovation Award. The nonprofit, which helps students earn credits and scholarships while building houses, will receive $50,000 from TFA to continue developing and expanding their reach.

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 Monitor visited the New Orleans Therapeutic Day Program, a school that gives children with severe trauma and emotional disturbance a safe place to learn.

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Latest Cohort Graduation Rates Released

4-Year Cohort Graduation Rates Released

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.
  • Improve our K-8 performance, as discussed below.

Comparing New Orleans to Other Districts

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ICYMI: What New Orleans Thinks of Its Schools

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What New Orleans Thinks of Its Public Schools

The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) has released the results of its citywide survey, and the Cowen Institute has released its report on their annual public perceptions poll. The results were very consistent between the two. 

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.

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ICYMI: Education in Trump’s First 100 Days

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Education in Trump’s First 100 Days

The Fordham Institute looks at education in President Trump’s first 100 days to see what has changed and what might change in public education. Some of the early changes enacted by the Trump administration include: eliminating school accountability regulations in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, relaxing school lunch standards, rolling back protections for people who default on student loans, and reversing bathroom access guidelines for public schools.

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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ICYMI: All-Charter District on Hold (for now)

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Update on District-Run Schools

 
The New Orleans public school system is not going all-charter – at least not this year. Eleanor McMain will be chartered by InspireNOLA, but Ben Franklin Elementary, Mary Bethune, McDonogh 35, and Mahlia Jackson will continue to be run by the district through the 2017-18 school year.

Last week, Exceed charter group withdrew its charter application after outside consultants said its application fell short. OPSB approved InspireNOLA’s application to charter Eleanor McMain.  

The Superintendent recommended and an OPSB committee approved closing Mahalia Jackson Elementary at the end of the 2017-18 school year, but the full board deferred action on the final decision at its meeting last week.   

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ICYMI: BESE approves school accountability plan

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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. 

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Career Expo Success for YouthForce Expo

YouthForce NOLA Inaugural Career Expo Draws Over 2000 Students, 60 Businesses

Livingston Students Practice CPR

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

ICYMI: Trump and K-12 Education

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Trump and K-12 Education

In his first address to Congress, President Trump urged Congress to dramatically expand school choice. Two days later, at a Catholic school in Florida, Trump and his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, reaffirmed their commitment to choice.

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.

In an opinion piece for CNN, Andre Perry says DeVos should start by addressing the flaws of charter schools and vouchers, which she helped create. A new study of national and international voucher programs found no evidence that school vouchers offer students significant academic advantages or are a proven education reform strategy. Louisiana’s voucher program received a D for 2016, performing worse than all but three public school districts.
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Debating School Performance Measures

How Should We Measure School Performance?

As BESE gets ready to vote later this month on a new school accountability model for Louisiana, one key issue has been how much weight should be given to student growth in determining a school’s letter grade. This question has generated a lot of discussion and contention.

The superintendent and the Accountability Commission have recommended that student growth count for 25% of the school performance score for K-8 schools and 12.5% for high schools. Nine education and business groups criticized this recommendation, saying it would over-emphasize student progress and could mislead parents and the public about a school’s performance. In a guest column in the Advocate, Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute disagreed with their assessment, saying academic growth is actually a more accurate reflection of teacher and school performance.

Why the debate?

At a high level, there are two ways to use test results to judge a school. One is by status: How do students perform at a particular moment in time. The other is growth: How well has the school improved student performance over the course of the year. Both measurements are valid, but they measure different things.

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