Academics

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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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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PARCC Results: A New Baseline

The state has released the 2014-15 PARCC test results for English and math, grades 3-8.

How did New Orleans do?

  • 60% of students scored Proficient (Basic or above); the state was 65%.
  • 28% of students scored Mastery or above; the state was 33%.

Compared to other districts?

  • New Orleans is ranked 45th out of 69 districts for percent Mastery or above.
  • We outperformed 21 districts, and tied with three others.
  • We held steady. Last year we ranked 46th; this year we ranked 45th.

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2015 EOC Results – New Orleans ties the state!

 
New Orleans high school performance on End-of-Course tests (EOCs) continues to improve.
  • New Orleans citywide, including Type 2 charters, is now performing at the state average.
  • New Orleans is the 5th most improved district in the state.
  • OPSB and RSD-NO combined is in the top 50% statewide and is ranked of #31 out of 69 parishes. This is the first academic ranking where New Orleans is in the top half of the state!
Percent Proficient on EOCs
EOCs_2013_to_2015_NO_vs_State
* Includes all New Orleans Schools – OPSB, RSD-NO, and two Type 2 charters.

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Thank A Teacher!

Thank_a_Teacher_Bumper_Sticker

It’s true! New Orleans has seen dramatic improvements in student performance over the last ten years. These gains wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and tireless dedication of our teachers.
 
Show your support for New Orleans teachers by sharing this email with your friends or uploading this Thank You message to Facebook or Twitter.
 
You can also order a free Thank A Teacher bumper sticker from Educate Now! Just reply to this email, and be sure to include your mailing address so we know where to send it.*
 
Public schools in New Orleans are #1 for academic improvement in the state. Thank a teacher today!

NY Magazine counters NY Times

Supt. John White is not the only one to take exception to the New York Times op-ed.

Jonathan Chait wrote a great piece for New York Magazine‘s NYMag.com called How New Orleans Proved Urban Education Reform Can Work.

And

Peter Cook provides a detailed fact check on the op-ed.

An open letter from State Supt. John White

In response to a recent New York Times op-ed that was filled with inaccuracies, State Superintendent John White has written An Open Letter to Supporters of New Orleans Schools and Children.

It’s worth the read!

 

By the Numbers: Student and School Performance

This fall, Louisiana’s Department of Education will release new baseline scores for schools and for student performance. As we move to the new academic standards, Educate Now! will no longer use 2005 as a comparison point. Instead, our new baseline will be the 2014-15 school year.

It’s time to focus on what’s next for New Orleans public schools, but before we move on, Educate Now! wants to thank the educators, administrators and volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the past decade to help our students succeed.

Ten years after Katrina, here’s how New Orleans public schools have changed.

SCHOOL AND STUDENT PERFORMANCE

The percentage of students enrolled in failing schools fell from 62% to 6%. The percentage enrolled in A or B schools increased from 13% to 37%.1
en-enrollment-by-performance-072715
The percentage of students proficient on state tests increased from 25% to 62%.
aen-performance-all-students-072715 no header
The percentage of Black students proficient on state tests increased from 21% to 59%, and we now outperform the state by 5 percentage points.
aperformance-black-students

 

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ICYMI: Let’s Fact Check

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

Fact Checking the New Orleans Reforms

Last week, Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance (ERA) published its findings on New Orleans’ student and school academic performance since Katrina. Their research showed that a typical school student’s scores rose by 8 to 15 percentage points.

“Even the lower end of that range suggests large positive effects,” ERA Director Doug Harris wrote. “We are not aware of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short time.”

Their analysis ruled out other factors that might have led to the improved scores.

  • The gains were NOT due to changes in student population.
  • The gains were NOT due to schools focusing their efforts on the “bubble students,” those right at the cusp of passing.
  • The gains were NOT due to pushing students out of school. The number of expulsions, suspensions, and days suspended are either unchanged or lower than in the pre-storm period.

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