More students graduating on time!

New Orleans 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Continues to Rise

The citywide 4-year graduation rate for New Orleans (OPSB+RSD) increased by 2.5 percentage points, bringing it to 75.2% of all students graduating on time.
 
Today, the state released the 4-year cohort graduation rates for the Class of 2015. The Class of 2015 cohort includes all students who entered 9th grade for the first time in 2011, and the cohort graduation rate is the percentage of students in the cohort who graduated within four years. 

New Orleans Outperforms the State in Every Key Sub-Group

In 2015, 73.3% of African-American students graduated on time in New Orleans, an increase of 2.6 percentage points from 2014 and 1.9 points higher than the state average of 71.4% for African-American students. 
 
The New Orleans 4-year cohort graduation rates for other key sub-groups – students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners – were also higher than the state average for these sub-groups.

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Return of Schools – Reimagining a Traditional School District

If, when and how the Recovery School District (RSD) schools should return to local control has been a point of discussion and contention for the past ten years. On Wednesday, SB 432 by Senator Peterson unanimously passed the Senate and now heads to the House. If SB 432 becomes law, these questions are about to be answered.

SB 432 redefines the roles of the School Board and the district Superintendent, creating an opportunity for New Orleans to implement a reimagined school district in which:

  • Parents choose the school best for their child
  • Autonomous schools make unimpeded academic and personnel decisions on behalf of children
  • The Superintendent authorizes schools to exist and regulates the fair treatment of students
  • The School Board hires and fires the Superintendent, oversees the system’s financial health, and approves policy as needed

The risk going forward is one of execution:

  • Will the Superintendent and School Board be willing to make the hard decisions necessary to promote excellence and equity for all students?
  • How well will the Superintendent and the central office perform the current RSD functions?

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ICYMI: Return of Schools is Getting Close

Return of Schools is Close

State control over New Orleans schools could be coming to an end. A bill proposed by Sen. Karen Carter-Peterson would move all New Orleans RSD schools back to OPSB by 2018. There are some key sticking points for stakeholders, but this is the closest education officials and charter advocates have come to giving their blessing to a return plan.
State tuned – Educate Now! will be discussing this legislation in more detail later this week.

Differentiated Funding Lawsuit Update

Former state superintendent Paul Pastorek has filed his first case as an education attorney – intervening in Lusher and Lake Forest’s lawsuit against OPSB on behalf of four families with disabled students. The plaintiffs (Lusher and Lake Forest) are suing to block the new funding formula; these families are countering that the current public school funding is discriminatory.

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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.

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The Differentiated Funding Formula – Where are we?

On Tuesday night, by a vote of 7-0, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) directed their superintendent to allocate MFP money to schools as required by law. The impact will be to enact a new differentiated funding formula for OPSB charter schools, a formula that will also be used by the RSD for its New Orleans charters.

In response, Lusher and Lake Forest Elementary are now suing OPSB in federal court arguing that if OPSB funds them using this formula, the board will be violating their operating agreements and their rights under federal contract law.

How did we get here?

Last year, the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 467, which requires a single, differentiated funding formula for all OPSB and RSD charters.

The essence of Act 467:

Part 1 – Act 467 requires that RSD and OPSB charters be funded using a differentiated formula.

“The total amount of minimum foundation program formula funds allocated to charter schools that are located within the district shall be allocated using a district-level computation based on student characteristics or needs as determined by the state board.”

Part 2 – The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) will help bring together district stakeholders to develop the district level allocation.

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ICYMI: Web of Support

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

Web of Support

A program called Thread is getting results that defy expectations. Thread connects struggling high school students in Baltimore with a team of up to five volunteers who commit to support them in any way necessary – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 10 years. The results are impressive: 92% of students in Thread for five years graduated from high school (the city average is 72%); 90% were accepted into college; and of those who attended college, 80% completed a two- or four-year college certification program. Editor’s note: It would be really exciting to have a program like this in NOLA. Any volunteers?

Louisiana Headlines

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued his legislative agenda for the Regular Legislative Session. It includes proposals to stem the growth of charter schools in A and B-rated districts and reduce the value-added component in teacher evaluations.

State Supt. John White is worried about future funding for Louisiana’s public schools. Although state aid to public schools wasn’t cut during the Special Session, it could still be on the chopping block for next year. The Legislature did cut close to $4 million from the Department of Education’s 2015-16 budget (ending June 30, 2016), and White says he’s concerned additional cuts to the department’s 2016-17 budget could result in significant layoffs and affect essential services.

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By the Numbers: 2015 TOPS Scholarships

New Orleans high schools rocked it!

TOPS data for the class of 2015 shows 10% more high school graduates were eligible for TOPS college scholarships last year, and New Orleans is rapidly closing the gap with the state.

Gains in TOPS Eligibility

In five years, New Orleans closed the gap to the state average to a mere three points! 

Since 2010, the percentage of public high school graduates eligible for TOPS two-year or four-year scholarships increased 18 points, from 29% to 47%. The state increased 9 points, from 41% to 50%.

Eligible for TOPS
2010
2014
2015
5-year
gains
New Orleans
29%
37%
47%
+ 18 pts
Louisiana
41%
45%
50%
+ 9 pts

Gains in Eligibility for TOPS 4-year Scholarships

Since 2010, the percentage of public high school graduates eligible for 4-year TOPS scholarships increased 15 points, from 19% to 34%. The state increased 7 points, from 31% to 38%.

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ICYMI: A Time of Controversy

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

School Funding Formula for the City

By a 10-1 vote (with one abstention), the Act 467 Committee, comprised of local Orleans Parish educators and community members, voted in favor a new funding formula for all RSD and OPSB public schools. These local weights will be submitted to BESE for consideration at their March 3rd and 4th meetings.

As discussed in Educate Now!’s February 17 email, this Orleans-specific formula will allocate money to every RSD and OPSB student based upon certain local weights, and this money follows the student to the school where that student enrolls. These local weights provide extra money for students with special needs, overage students, English language learners, high school students and gifted and talented (G & T) students. The heaviest weight is for students with special needs, so schools that enroll low numbers of special needs students are likely to see less money under this new formula.

To protect schools from a significant drop in funding, the Committee proposed that in addition to the local weights, the formula will include a “phase in” clause, such that no school’s average MFP per pupil will fall below 98% of its 10/1/15 MFP average per pupil. There are an estimated 14 schools that would need phase in support of varying amounts, but no school will see a reduction greater than $185/student.

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Facts about new funding formula

Educate Now! has received a lot of questions concerning information that Lusher and Franklin sent to their parents about the differentiated funding formula Orleans is working on, which will go before BESE in March. Unfortunately, the email circulated by the schools contains incomplete and wrong information.

The committee developing this funding formula, which includes OPSB schools, RSD schools, OPSB leadership, and RSD leadership, anticipates that the formula will include a clause such that no school loses more than a 2%. For Lusher, that 2% translates to a maximum reduction of $170/student, or around $291,000 not $1,200,000, as was stated in the email. For Franklin, the loss of revenues based on current student count is $155,000. 

ICYMI: Catching Up After Catching Beads

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

State Budget Deficit

There is now a projected budget deficit of $870 million for this fiscal year (which ends June 30). Gov. John Bel Edwards is proposing more taxes, and he has vowed to protect school funding; Republicans want to use cuts to cover as much of the deficit as possible. Louisiana’s constitution would allow the MFP to be cut 1% this fiscal year. Stay tuned.

Local Headlines

After Landry-Walker’s amazing increase in its 2013-14 test scores, the Algiers Charter School Association (ACSA) conducted a 16-month internal investigation of Landry-Walker and found substantial evidence that staff violated testing procedures. In 2015, after implementing extremely strict testing protocols, Landry-Walker’s test scores fell significantly. The Department of Education also flagged the results in November of 2014, asking the state inspector general’s office to conduct an official investigation.
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