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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ICYMI – Wanted: Everyday Heroes

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

Looking for Everyday Heroes

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune is profiling everyday heroes who fill the New Orleans area with hope. If you know someone who is trying to create a better future for metro New Orleans – one school, one church, one neighborhood, one cause at a time – nominate them using this online form, or by emailing heroes@nola.com, or by sending a letter to Future of New Orleans, c/o NOLA Media Group, One Canal Place, 365 Canal Street, Suite 3100, New Orleans LA 70130.

Time to Talk about Career-Tech

Shane Haggerty of the Tolles Career & Technical Center says it’s time we talk about career-tech. The emphasis on a traditional four-year college pathway has led to a disconnect between education and opportunity, and too many college graduates are struggling financially because they were never given all the educational pathway options in high school.
 
In Louisiana, four students who are pursuing the state’s revamped career education path say the courses are making a difference and changing lives.

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ICYMI: Edwards names his 3 BESE appointees

Three New BESE Members Appointed

Governor-elect John Bel Edwards has chosen his three appointees to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Parish schools; Thomas Roque, superintendent of the Diocese of Alexandria; and Lurie Thomason, assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Grambling State University. While Governor-elect Edwards may have wanted a new state superintendent, he does not have the votes to replace John White, and his three BESE appointees said in an interview they would be “open” to working with White.

Many people are wondering if Edwards plans to rollback public school reforms, with others noting that New Orleans is both the biggest democratic stronghold in the state and a strong supporter of charter schools.

Other Louisiana Headlines

A new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows Black students both nationally and in Louisianacontinue to rank behind their peers on education tests and notes that “African-American students are disproportionately impacted by the shortcomings in our education system.”
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Reflecting on 2015

Looking Back: 2015

2015 was a pivotal year for public education in New Orleans. In retrospect, it will mark a turning point in creating a more united system of public schools and blurring the difference between OPSB and RSD schools in New Orleans.

Unifying our system of schools

In 2015, OPSB and the state addressed some core issues that had created schisms. Resolving these issues will create a more stable, equitable, and shared foundation for the city’s system of schools going forward.

OPSB turns a new page

In January 2015, Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) finally selected a superintendent, Dr. Henderson Lewis. In March, Ira Thomas resigned from OPSB and subsequently pled guilty to taking bribes. With Thomas’ departure and a new superintendent, the OPSB quit fighting and supported Dr. Lewis’ efforts to reorganize its central office to better oversee a system of autonomous charter schools.

OPSB adopts key policies
  • OneApp and Transportation: OPSB passed policy HA, which created clear and consistent policies for all OPSB charters, including the requirement that all OPSB charters participate in OneApp (as their charters renew) and provide transportation.
  • Fund balance (reserves): OPSB made another, equally important policy change that received a lot less attention. It limited how it can spend its fund balance going forward, restricting more than 90% of the current fund balance ($45 million+) to emergencies and other “unforeseen, exceptional circumstances” and for the needs of the system as a whole (all public schools in Orleans Parish).

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K-8 School Performance Scores Released

The state has released the 2015 School Performance Scores (SPS) and School Letter Grades for elementary schools, middle schools, and combination schools (high schools with a K-8 grade). These scores are based on the more rigorous standards and PARCC test for grades 3-8 in English and math and represent a new baseline score for schools.

So … How did we do?

  • Even with harder tests and tougher academic standards, New Orleans kept pace with the state and is performing well when compared to other high poverty districts in the state.
  • More students are attending A, B, or C graded schools and fewer attend D or F schools.
  • Many elementary and middle schools across the state struggled with the new standards, and schools in New Orleans were no exception. More than half of the city’s elementary and middle schools saw a decrease in their SPS, and more than 20% went down at least one letter grade.

New Orleans Kept Pace with the State

The District Performance Score is the most comprehensive measurement of school and student performance. It includes all students (including students that attended schools now closed), all tests, and all grades. The DPS for New Orleans includes all RSD and OPSB schools, both charter and direct-run. It does not include Type 2 charters.

  • The District Performance Score for New Orleans remained the same as last year – 83.4, a high C just 1.6 points from a B. Louisiana’s statewide score decreased from 89.2 to 88.8, remaining a B.

View 2015 District Performance Scores (xlsx).

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Educate Now! names Cate Swinburn Vice President of Programs

Educate Now! has named Cate Swinburn Vice President of Programs. In this role Ms. Swinburn will initially focus on initiatives in college and career readiness and personalized learning. Cate Swinburn

“Cate brings an incredible depth and breadth of experience to Educate Now!,” said Leslie Jacobs, Founder and President of Educate Now! “She has successfully managed K-12 classrooms, programmatic initiatives in both the charter and traditional public school sectors, and fundraising and oversight of multi-million dollar public-private partnerships. We are very fortunate to have her expertise and leadership.” 

Ms. Swinburn began her career in education fifteen-plus years ago as a first grade teacher. She later earned a graduate degree in public administration from New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and served in the NYC Department of Education while Joel Klein was Chancellor.  

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ICYMI: In the News

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

What’s Next for Education in Louisiana?

John Bel Edwards is skeptical of Common Core, charter schools, and vouchers and has the support of many who want to see changes in Louisiana’s education policy. But U.S. News and World Report says the election of Edwards doesn’t doom school choice in Louisiana because charters and vouchers have engendered deep buy-in from parents and created unique coalitions.

A recent national report applauds Louisiana for its teacher evaluation system because it uses teacher ratings to recognize and encourage effective instruction as well as prepare and value highly effective teachers. Locally, the evaluation system has been criticized for negatively affecting teacher performance and morale. Editor’s note: Expect John Bel Edwards to include changes in teacher evaluation and VAM as part of his legislative agenda.

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ICYMI: Election Results and Education Reform

Election Results and Education Reform
 
John Bel Edwards will be Louisiana’s next governor. Despite his assurances, many education advocates are worried charter schools will be in jeopardy.
 
Two BESE elections were also decided Saturday. Kathy Edmonston won District 6 (Baton Rouge area), replacing Chas Roemer, and Tony Davis won District 4 (Shreveport area). While John Bel Edwards stated again today his intention to replace Superintendent John White, it is unlikely he can do so. With the election of Tony Davis, John White has the support of 7 BESE members, and it would take 8 of the 11 members to replace him.

John Bel Edwards has been a vocal critic of Common Core, but uprooting the academic standards from classrooms will be a huge challenge with the recent compromise bill passed by the Legislature.
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ICYMI: What Could Elections Mean for N.O. Education Reform?

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

The Elections and New Orleans Education Reform

John Bel Edwards and David Vitter are “night and day” on major education issues. These differences are very apparent in how they answered the questionnaire from the Louisiana School Board Association about charter schools and the RSD.

A recent Advocate editorial said Edwards may be more informed than Vitter about the failure of charters in East Baton Rouge, but Vitter’s position on charter schools is the right one – students in New Orleans are much better off today than they were pre-Katrina, and charters are a critical component of that success.

While both the Tea Party and teacher union activists oppose Common Core (as do Edwards and Vitter), the “manufactured controversy” didn’t resonate with most statewide voters in the recent BESE elections.

More on High School Performance Scores

High schools across the state are showing significant improvement, but Louisiana standards are not in line with national standards for college readiness – at least not yet. Currently, Louisiana considers an A-graded high school to be one where: 75 percent of students graduate on time; the average ACT score is at least 18; and the average EOC score is Good or above. Beginning in 2016-17, the state will start to raise the bar on every performance measure so that in 10 years, the majority of students in A-rated schools will be college and career ready.
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High School Performance – A WOW Moment!

New Orleans high schools are (finally) showing great improvement.

The state released Letter Grades and School Performance Scores (SPS) for most high schools1, and there is cause for celebration!

Highlights

  • More than half of New Orleans high schools earned a letter grade of A or B. Five years ago, only two high schools had an A or B letter grades and both were selective admission schools (Ben Franklin and Lusher).
  • New Orleans schools outperform other high-poverty high schools in Louisiana. Among schools statewide serving student populations where three-quarters or more of students are economically disadvantaged, New Orleans has the top 5 performing schools.
School
2015 Grade
SPS
Edna Karr A 111.1
Warren Easton A 109.2
Sci High B 98.6
KIPP Renaissance B 96.8
Sci Academy B 96.3
  • Four high schools were among the top 10 most improved in the state: KIPP Renaissance, Clark Prep, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy, and Sci Academy.
  • Eight high schools improved enough to change their letter grade.

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