Student Performance is on the Rise

The GEE

The Graduation Exit Exam (GEE) tests 10th and 11th graders in English, Math, Science and Social Studies.

Since 2005, New Orleans test results have grown more than the state in all subjects.

  • In English, New Orleans grew 12 percentage points; the state grew 3.
  • In Math, New Orleans grew 21 percentage points; the state grew 11.
  • In Science, New Orleans grew 13 points. The state grew 4.
  • In Social Studies, New Orleans grew 18 points. The state grew 7.

2005 and 2010 GEE

Overall School Quality Has Improved

2005 Pre-Katrina

Pre-Katrina, high schools in New Orleans were sharply divided between high performing, selective admissions schools and low performing (many the lowest in the state) open admissions high schools.

In 2005, 67% of high schoolers (grades 9-12) attended a failing school.

While a failing school has a School Performance Score (SPS) of less than 60, the majority of New Orleans’ failing high schools were the worst schools in the state, with scores below 30.

Post-Katrina to Today

The high schools governed by the Orleans Parish School Board were the first to reopen after the storm. Some of their highly selective schools reduced or eliminated their admissions criteria to help get students back in school and to bring their student enrollment closer to pre-Katrina levels. This change in student make-up contributed to a drop in their SPS scores.

As a result, today we have fewer 3, 4, and 5 star schools and more 1 and 2 star schools.

The good news:  Significantly fewer students are attending failing schools.

Using either the 2009 SPS scores or the spring 2010 test

scores, Educate Now! estimates that in 2010 only 36% of students in grades 9-12 attended failing schools. This is marked improvement!

View 2005 high schools with student population and performance rankings.
View 2010 high schools with student population and performance rankings.

In addition to the schools that were one star or higher in 2009, Educate Now! calculated three additional high schools should have a 2010 Growth Performance Score* of 60 or higher:

O. Perry Walker, Algiers Technical Academy and Thurgood Marshall Early College High School. Congrats to all three!

Unfortunately, while the percent of students attending a failing high school has dropped, so has the percent of students attending a high performing high school – from 21% in 2005 to 10% in 2010.

We can and should be able to have non selective high schools that are high performing. Educate Now! wants to shine the spotlight on Sci Academy. Their 10th grade GEE scores were excellent -the third highest in the city behind Ben Franklin and Lusher. Sci Academy proves that open admission high schools can excel; our challenge is for more of them to do so.

* Growth performance scores use only the most recent year of data. A school performance score averages two years of data.

High School Performance

The high school landscape in New Orleans is very different now than it was pre-Katrina, but it is still possible to make valid comparisons between 2005 and 2010 to determine how education reform is affecting our high school students.

There are critics who claim that New Orleans high school students are no better off, and may be even worse off, than they were before Katrina. This is not correct.

Without a doubt:

1.  High Schools Are Better
In 2005, 67% of high school students (grades 9-12) attended a failing high school. In 2010, this percentage dropped to 36%* – a huge improvement!

2.  More Students Are Performing Basic or Above:
In 2005, only 40% of students scored Basic or above on the English section of the Graduation Exit Exam (GEE), compared to 52% this year. Math gains are even more impressive, with a 21 point gain: 39% in 2005 to 60% in 2010.

3.  Senior Graduation Rates Are Up:
In 2005, only 79% of seniors graduated. This year, 90% of seniors graduated – an 11 point jump.

Our high schools are far from perfect, but the improvements in school and student performance provide a basis for optimism.

* This is an estimate based on 2010 test scores. See below for more details.

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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