High School Performance

Friday, July 11, 2014, 6:58 pm

The state has released data on high school performance.

The Really Good News

New Orleans showed robust growth on the End of Course Tests (EOCs).

  • New Orleans1 (OPSB & RSD) is 8th in improvement in the state, with 59% of students proficient (scoring Excellent or Good) compared to 52% in 2013.
  • This is a jump of 7 percentage points; the state improved 3 points, from 59% to 62% proficient.
  • Compared to the other 69 districts, New Orleans is now #37, up from #47 last year (up 11 spots).
  • When we look at all New Orleans2, including Type 2 charters and NOCCA, 61% of students are proficient, just 1 point below the state average.

The state has been phasing in the EOCs by testing more subjects each year. This year, for the first time, all six subjects were tested: Algebra, Biology, English II, English III, Geometry and U.S. History. Since 2011, New Orleans has improved 14 points, while the state has improved 7 points.

Percent of Students (OPSB & RSD) Proficient
2012-2014_EOC_Percent_Proficient_NO_v_State-2

See below for EOC performance by school.

The Really Good News (part 2)

New Orleans students improved on the ACT

All students are now required to take the ACT. Many take it multiple times, and ACT uses their highest score.

  • Looking at all New Orleans high schools, 50% of students scored an 18 or higher, up 6 points from 44% in 2013.
  • Statewide, 59% of Louisiana students scored an 18 or higher, a 1 point gain from 2013.
  • 18 is the score that ACT says is aligned with college success.

Read More »

In the News – Superintendent Search Stalled (again)

Sunday, June 29, 2014, 8:47 pm

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.

Read More »

Cowen’s 2014 Poll: What Do Voters Think?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 5:49 pm

With the RSD becoming the first all charter district, there have been lots of assertions in the media about how New Orleanians view public education reforms. Tulane’s Cowen Institute recently released its 2014 opinion poll, and comparing these results with prior polls provides some insight based on survey results versus speculation.

School Choice

Voters generally think choice has had a positive impact on schools.

In 2014, Cowen asked if “choice has had a positive, negative or no impact on the quality of education in New Orleans.”

  • 53% said positive
  • 20% said negative
  • 27% said no opinion, no impact or some positive and some negative

Voters support OneApp.

When asked if all public schools in New Orleans should use a common application process,

  • 79% of voters agreed
  • 12% disagreed
  • 9% were uncertain or refused to answer

Read More »

Common Core: What happened last week?

Sunday, June 22, 2014, 6:30 pm

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 »

Can the Governor Derail Common Core?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 5:50 pm

Common Core: Governor v. the People

The Louisiana Legislature, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Superintendent of Education have stood strong in support of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests.

On June 6, after Gov. Jindal failed in his efforts to kill CCSS and PARCC during the legislative session, he stated, “It is time for the Department of Education to come up with a Plan B … I am committed to getting us out of PARCC, out of Common Core.”

The question is … does Jindal have the constitutional authority to unilaterally get the state out of Common Core and PARCC?

First, BESE has the constitutional authority to enact the standards and select the test. 

BESE “shall supervise and control the public elementary and secondary schools … as provided by law.”

Second, the law clearly provides for CCSS and PARCC, and every attempt to change the law this session was defeated. The law states:

“Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, standards-based assessments implemented by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in English language arts and mathematics shall be based on nationally recognized content standards … Rigorous student achievement standards shall be set with reference to test scores of the same grade levels nationally.”

So, by what means could Jindal thwart this authority?

Educate Now! is skeptical that the governor can force BESE to drop Common Core and adopt new standards. Even if he convened a commission to write new standards, BESE would not have to adopt them. He would likely focus on eliminating the PARCC tests because Common Core standards without tests aligned to these standards would be pretty meaningless.

Read More »

California Tenure Laws Ruled Unconstitutional

Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 6:06 pm

A California judge has ruled that teacher tenure laws deprive students of their right to an education under the state Constitution. The decision hands teachers’ unions a major defeat in a landmark case, one that could radically alter how California teachers are hired and fired and prompt challenges to tenure laws in other states.

In the ruling, Judge Treu agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that:

  • current laws make it impossible to get rid of the system’s numerous low-performing and incompetent teachers;
  • seniority rules requiring the newest teachers to be laid off first were harmful;
  • granting tenure to teachers after only two years on the job was farcical, offering far too little time for a fair assessment of their skills; and
  • the least effective teachers are disproportionately assigned to schools filled with low-income and minority students.

The judge determined the situation violates those students’ constitutional right to an equal education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement, saying, “My hope is that today’s decision moves from the courtroom toward a collaborative process in California that is fair, thoughtful, practical and swift. Every state, every school district needs to have that kind of conversation.”

The court has ordered a stay of the decision, pending an appeal by the state and the teachers union.

Read more in The New York Times.

In the News – First All Charter District

Monday, June 9, 2014, 6:09 pm

First All-Charter District

In New Orleans, major school district closes traditional public schools for good
The Recovery School District is closing its last five traditionally run schools at the end of this year, which will make it the first all-charter district in the country. The story has received national coverage from The Washington Post, NPR, PBS, Diane Ravich and others, and local coverage from The Times-Picayune and Louisiana Weekly.

While this has not been a major local story, the national media is abuzz as New Orleans has become the poster child in a national debate (fight) over how to improve public education.

Common Core Updates

Jindal wants La. out of Common Core
Gov. Bobby Jindal is committed to getting Louisiana out of Common Core and the PARCC tests that go with it. “It is time for the Department of Education to come up with a plan B,” he said. At a Common Core summit for teachers Superintendent John White said enough Common Core political fighting. Plans for the new academic goals have been in the works among students and teachers for the past four years. Teachers deserve to know what they will be teaching come August.

The legislature passed only one Common Core-related bill this session – House Bill 953, which gives teachers and schools an additional year (three years instead of two) before being penalized for poor performance on new PARCC assessments. It will likely be vetoed by the Governor.

Read More »

Grades 3-8 Test Scores Are In

Monday, May 26, 2014, 10:35 am

New Orleans Flat; State Flat

The Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) has released the 2014 test scores for grades 3-8. The percent of students performing Basic or above remained unchanged from 2013. This is the first year since Katrina that New Orleans did not improve.

  • The state average remained the same at 69% Basic or above.
  • New Orleans (RSD & OPSB) remained the same at 63% Basic or above.
  • OPSB went down 2 points; RSD remained the same; and Type 2 charters grew 5 points.

Percent Basic or Above – Grades 3-8

District 2013 2014 Change
Louisiana
69% 69% 0
All New Orleans
63% 63% 0
RSD – N.O.
57% 57% 0
OPSB
84% 82% -2
Type 2 charters – N.O.
73% 78% 5

Read More »

In the News – OPSB Interviews New Candidates Today

Thursday, May 22, 2014, 11:52 am

Superintendent Search Continues

Orleans Parish School Board considers former Jefferson Parish, Memphis superintendents for top job
The Orleans Parish School Board is meeting Thursday to interview three new, more experienced candidates for superintendent. The additional finalists are: Kriner Cash, the former superintendent in Memphis, Veronica Conforme, the former chief operating officer of New York City schools, and Diane Roussel McDonald, the former superintendent in Jefferson Parish.

Student Voices

Time magazine recently published opinion pieces from two New Orleans high school students on its website. In Teach For America Deserves Credit for Improving New Orleans Schools, Brianisha Frith, a junior at KIPP Renaissance High School, writes about the TFA teachers that inspired her and held her to a very high standard. “Their drive to educate every single child is refreshing and dignifying,” she says. In New Orleans Charter Schools Shouldn’t Treat Students Like Prisoners, Kenyatta Collins, a junior at Lake Area New Tech High School, describes her experiences with very strict discipline policies. She says the discipline at her school focuses too much on behavior rather than academic performance. Both essays are part of a collaboration between The Hechinger Report and high school students at Bard’s Early College in New Orleans. Editor’s note: Hats off to Bard’s Early College Program. These are two very well written essays!

Read More »

Who’s Going to College

Monday, May 19, 2014, 9:20 am

Who’s Going to College?

A new report from the Louisiana Department of Education shows how many students from the class of 2012 enrolled in college after high school.

For the Class of 2012 (OPSB & RSD combined):

  • 58% of graduates enrolled in college right after high school.
  • By the fall of 2013, college enrollment went up 10 points to 68% of graduates.
  • This is 2 points higher than the state average of 66%.

Read More »