In the News: A News Clipping Service – June 1, 2010

In this edition of In the News:
  • Michigan Public Radio Studies Detroit and N.O. Schools
  • Institute on Race and Poverty Report on New Orleans Schools
    New York Times Article
    —  Tulane University’s Cowen Institute Responds to Report
  • Teachers
    —  The Teachers’ Unions’ Last Stand
    —  LA Adopts Value-Added Teacher Evaluation Model
    —  Teachers Facing Weakest Market in Years
    —  Matching Teachers to Environment Improves Student Performance
  • Charter Schools
    —  Charter Schools Gain Edge from Hours, Says Study
    —  Five Hard Truths About Charter Schools
  • New Book Examines Achievement Gap Between the Sexes
  • Local News
    —  Charter School Conversion Leaves Some Parents Anxious, Some Hopeful
    —  Older Students Pose Unique Challenges for Teachers, Families

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Analysis of Spring 2010 Test Results

Student performance continues to rise!

The recently released 2010 Test Scores are great news for New Orleans. Across the city, student achievement continues to improve.

  • For the third year in a row, more students passed the high-stakes LEAP tests.
  • Significantly more students met the state proficiency goal of Basic or above.
    • The Recovery School District (RSD) is #1 in the state in increasing the percentage of students scoring Basic or above. The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) is tied for 4th highest.
  • In cumulative gains (over three years), the RSD is again #1, and OPSB tied with one other district for 3rd highest gains.

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Governance Part 2: What’s Needed in the Long Term?

  • Who should authorize charter schools?
  • Who should manage school facilities?
  • Who should handle the money?
  • What should happen to the Orleans Parish School Board?
  • What about giving the mayor authority over schools?
  • What about an appointed school board?

While these are all important questions, Educate Now! urges everyone to hit the pause button and take time to fully understand the “what” of school governance (what roles, functions, services must be in place) before looking at the “who” (what individuals, group, organization, or political entity or entities should be responsible for these functions).
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Governance Part 1: Public Opinion and Performance

Education was an issue in the recent Mayoral and City Council elections, especially school governance and school performance. These issues were debated, discussed, and polled. Finally, the candidates were asked their positions. So, now that we have a new mayor and five of the seven city council seats have been decided, where are we?

Public Opinion

In addition to the publicly released polls from the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL), the Cowen Institute and James Carville’s Democracy Corps, a number of candidates (myself included) conducted private polls that gathered voters’ opinions about the state of public education. In general:

Governance
The majority of voters:

  • Believe the state made the right decision in taking over the schools (Cowen);
  • Strongly support choice (CABL, Cowen);
  • Strongly support charters (CABL, Cowen, Democracy Corps);
  • Do not want schools returned to the Orleans Parish School Board (CABL, Cowen);
  • Do not want mayoral control of schools (Cowen); and
  • Would like return of local control eventually (Democracy Corps). Continue reading

2009 October School Performance Scores

The Big Picture: Good News Overall

The state has just released the 2009 School Performance Scores, and the news is good overall. Students in New Orleans are doing better than they were pre-Katrina, and New Orleans is one of the 5 most-improved areas in the state.

In 2005, just before Katrina, only 37% of Orleans Parish schools were considered Academically Acceptable with one star or higher. Today that number is 58% – an increase of 21 percentage points.

New Orleans is one of the most improved areas in the state, and our rate of progress is significantly higher than the state average. The District Performance Score for New Orleans Schools went from 56.9 in 2005 to 70.6 in 2009, an increase of 13.7 points. The state average only went up 3.6 points during this time.

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2009 CABL Poll Results

Four Years After Katrina

It has been four years since Katrina struck, the levees failed, and New Orleans began the challenge of rebuilding a better city. One of the most dramatic upheavals since the storm has been in public education.

New Orleans schools now operate under a decentralized system that is completely unique. Sixty percent of students attend public charter schools. Charters have the freedom to individually decide how they will operate to better serve the needs of their students – who to hire, what curriculum to use, how to spend the money.

Moreover, all schools are schools of choice. Families get to pick their school, since students are no longer assigned to a school based on where they live.

How do voters feel about the changes?

A recent poll conducted by the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) reveals that New Orleans voters overwhelmingly support the changes and don’t want to go back to education as usual. The CABL survey, conducted by Vern Kennedy, polled 500 registered voters in New Orleans. The results:

  • When asked in an open-ended question to list things that are better than they were before Katrina, one in four voters named education – the number one response. Continue reading

Spring 2009 Graduation Rates

The Senior Graduation Rate Rises in New Orleans

A valuable measurement of a high school’s performance is the percentage of its seniors that graduate.

Prompted by the recent Times-Picayune profile of the tremendous improvement in the senior graduation rate at John McDonogh High School (click here to view article), Educate Now wanted to see how the seniors in all New Orleans high schools fared.

Historically, New Orleans has done a dismal job helping its seniors cross the finish line. In fact, in spring 2005, the last year all the schools were under the Orleans Parish School Board, only 79% of New Orleans seniors graduated, tying Madison Parish for the worst record in the state. Thus, for every 100 seniors, 21 did not get to walk across the stage and receive a diploma.

(click here for the 2005 state report)

So how did we do this year?  89% of New Orleans seniors graduated – a gain of 10 percentage points. This is good news for New Orleans and even better news for the 2,030 students who now can proudly say they are high school graduates. (See the chart below for graduation rates by school.) Continue reading

2009 Spring Test Results

Great News: Performance Soars!

The recently released 2009 Test Scores are great news for New Orleans. Across the city, student achievement improved dramatically.

These gains are truly significant and show the reforms underway are working.

  • New Orleans improved more than the state across all grades and subjects.
  • New Orleans showed real growth in the percentage of students passing the promotional high-stakes LEAP and GEE tests.
  • Significantly more students met the state proficiency goal of Basic or Above.

This edition of Leslie’s Notebook will focus on the high stakes tests – 4th and 8th grade English and Math LEAP tests, along with the Graduation Exit Exam – to highlight the tremendous improvement both this year and since the state took over the schools in 2006.

These results include all schools under the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District, both traditional and charter.

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Paul Vallas’ Legacy

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After Paul Vallas’ annoucement last week that he will be returning to Chicago in 2010, a number of Educate Now!’s members asked me for my perspective on this coming transition.  This Notebook is also the subject of a guest column in today’s Times Picayune.
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So, what will Paull Vallas’ depature in 2010 mean for the school reform effort? 
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After he leaves, student achievement in New Orleans will continue to improve.

How can I proclaim this with such confidence?

Because we now have a new model of public education reform that is no longer dependent upon Paul Vallas or any other single person for its success.