Other Analysis

In the News – Superintendent Search Stalled (again)

New Orleans Superintendent Search – Stalled

In Orleans Parish schools, two years of drift, missed opportunities
Stan Smith has been OPSB’s Interim Superintendent for two years, much longer than anyone expected, and longer than what is probably healthy for the district. The Times-Picayune spoke with academics, consultants and school officials, who all say the district is drifting – wasting an opportunity to re-envision itself and possibly to bring the city’s schools back together again.

Impasse on Orleans Parish superintendent search; president criticized for construction contract
At its last meeting, OPSB voted not to proceed with either of the two finalists for the superintendent’s position – Kriner Cash, former Memphis superintendent, and Edmond Heatley, most recently education minister of Bermuda. A third finalist, Veronica Conforme, former New York City schools chief operating officer, dropped out of the running just before the meeting. The meeting was dominated by fallout from the board’s approval of a construction contract that included family members of President Nolan Marshall Jr. as subcontractors on the job. Marshall said he has asked U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite to investigate the situation to determine if there was any wrongdoing.

Radio show erupts into argument between Orleans Parish School Board members
The personal animosity between OPSB President Nolan Marshall Jr. and board member Ira Thomas shone through in a in a recent interview on WBOK radio as the two hurled accusations at one another.

Common Core Updates

Politics do make strange bedfellows:

The Louisiana Association of Educators came out in support of Governor Jindal while Dan Juneau, the former President of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry for over 25 years, called Bobby Jindal’s attempts to scuttle Common Core “shameful.”

Higher Ed weighs in:

Louisiana’s Board of Regents has advised its colleges of education to continue to prepare teachers to teach to the Common Core.

 It is still about the tests:

As Educate Now! outlined in its recent blog post, the governor cannot force BESE to adopt new standards. His focus is on preventing the state from using test questions developed by a “consortium of states.” This would stop BESE from using PARCC or Smarter Balance test questions that are aligned with Common Core and that allow Louisiana to compare the performance of its students to other students across the country.

The governor suspended the contract of the test vendor, DRC. This suspension led Superintendent John White to notify districts that the summer retest could not be graded because DRC’s contract includes grading of all tests. The Jindal administration then “clarified” their suspension saying it only applies to preventing the contractor from purchasing test questions from the two state consortiums.

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Common Core: What happened last week?

Latest on Common Core – Round 2 

Last week, Governor Bobby Jindal played to his national ambitions and announced his plans to take Louisiana out of Common Core and PARCC. The Louisiana Department of Education and the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) responded saying they plan to stay the course on Common Core and PARCC, resulting in confusion among educators and the public.

Educate Now! will try and cut through the clutter and distill the salient points.

First, a primer: 

Standards: What we expect students to know and be able to do. In the past, every state had its own standards, but in 2010, BESE adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), along with more than forty other states.

Curriculum: What teachers use in the classroom to teach the standards. Districts, schools and teachers have the autonomy to pick the actual teaching materials and manner in which they want to teach. The state has issued curriculum guides to assist educators, but there is no set national or state curriculum.

Tests: How we assess student mastery of the standards. Well-designed tests are expensive and take time to develop. Louisiana joined a consortium of states to create the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC test, while a different consortium of states created the Smarter Balance test. Both groups began working on the tests in 2010 and field tested questions for quality and rigor in 2013 and 2014. Fifty thousand Louisiana students took a PARCC field test this year, giving schools experience in administering the test while further “testing” the questions for quality, clarity and rigor.

Now to last week’s events … 

Common Core: The governor will not win this one.

The standards are still in place, and the governor cannot force BESE to adopt new standards. While Jindal’s executive order asked the legislature to adopt new standards, he cannot require them to do so, and the legislature just rejected this request last session.

Read More »

The Promise of Career Prep

This guest editorial appeared in the Times-Picayune, and I wanted to share it with you.

Career prep can improve lives, aid local economy: Leslie Jacobs

Delgado Image

In New Orleans, less than half (48 percent) of African-American men of working age are employed – the rest are either out of work or out of the workforce. This employment crisis threatens the livelihoods of individuals and families, as well as the fabric of our city. Our new system of schools must evolve to prepare all of our students for meaningful careers.

Let’s be clear: Our schools have made tremendous gains.

Our K-8 schools have increased the percentage of eighth-graders performing on grade level in math and English from 28 percent pre-storm to 67 percent last spring, just one point shy of the state average.

The graduating class of 2013 is in much better shape than the class of 2005. In 2005, only about 50 percent of our high school students graduated. Today, close to 80 percent of our high school students will graduate. And we have increased the percentage of graduates qualifying for a four-year TOPS college scholarship from 16 percent to 26 percent.

These gains are truly impressive.

But what about the large percentage of our high school graduates who are not yet ready to succeed at a four-year college? How are we preparing them for jobs that provide livable wages and career opportunities? Read More »

Student Enrollment Continues to Rise; Almost 80% at Charters

Educate Now! collected enrollment data for all New Orleans public schools. This unofficial October 1 student count shows:

Student enrollment is 42,198.

An increase of 2,321 students from last year and a 64% increase since 2006, the first full year after Katrina.

78% of New Orleans students now attend charter schools, up from 71% last year.

New Orleans Public Schools
October 1 Student Count (all students)

Year OPSB Direct-Run OPSB Charter OPSB
Direct and
Charter
RSD Direct-Run RSD Charter RSD
Direct and
Charter
BESE
Type 2
Charter
TOTAL % at Charter Schools
2004 65,349 N/A 65,349 N/A 261 261 762 66,372 2%
2006 2,904 6,246 9,150 8,619 7,200 15,819 682 25,651 55%
2007 2,630 7,089 9,719 11,608 10,040 21,648 782 32,149 56%
2008 2,806 7,402 10,208 12,724 12,177 24,901 846 35,955 57%
2009 2,773 7,606 10,379 11,933 14,821 26,754 918 38,051 61%
2010 2,790 7,797 10,587 8,779 19,433 28,212 1078 39,877 71%
2011 3,047 7,921 10,968 6,398 23,285 29,683 1,547 42,198 78%
Sources: Louisiana Department of Education for October 1, 2004 through October 1, 2010 enrollment. The October 1, 2011 enrollment is self-reported by the RSD, OPSB and individual charter schools. Note: This chart does not include the Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy’s enrollment, since most of its students do not live in New Orleans.

 

Orleans Public School Enrollment Continues to Climb with Increase in Diversity and Charter Choice

The Louisiana Department of Education has released the student enrollment data for the 2010-11 school year.

The remarkable gains in student academic performance since 2005 are accompanied by a steady increase in student enrollment, from 35,995 students in 2008, and 38,051 in 2009, to 39,877 this year. 

The data reflect that the student population is more diverse, with the percentage of non-African American students growing from 6.6% before Katrina to 11.3% this year.

Additionally, the percentage of students attending charter schools increased sizably, from 61% last year to 71% this year.

The most significant takeaway from this data is that as student enrollment continues to increase, schools are slowly becoming more integrated and parents are overwhelmingly choosing charter schools.

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Evaluating New Orleans Charter Schools

Charter school performance has recently been the subject of a number of reports. Some of the highlights:

1.     A national study of 36 charter schools in 15 states showed that on average students who won lotteries to attend charter middle schools performed no better in math and reading than their peers who lost the lottery and enrolled in regular public schools. At the same time, this federally commissioned study showed that charter schools were more effective when serving low-income, lower-achieving students (especially in urban areas) than they were serving higher-income, higher-achieving students.

Read more about the study in Education Week magazine.
Read the Mathematica study “Evaluation of Charter School Impacts.”

2.     Last month, the same research firm, Mathematica, found that KIPP students, most of whom are poor and from a racial minority, outperformed their peers in regular public schools. Read more about Mathematica’s KIPP study.

Read More »