Personalized Learning is Gaining Traction in New Orleans

Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 4:14 pm

Sharing a commitment to ensuring all New Orleans students have a competitive edge in an innovation-based economy, New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) and Educate Now! recently announced grants totaling $1.5 million to implement new, school-wide personalized learning programs in New Orleans public schools. Funding for these grants comes from both national and local sources, showing a broad base of support for personalized learning in New Orleans.

Personalized learning initiatives tailor instruction to the individual needs, skills, and interests of students using technology, robust data, and rigorous planning. This education model gives teachers and schools the opportunity to accelerate student learning and skill mastery, particularly for struggling students. Akili Academy, KIPP McDonogh 15 Middle School, and New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School (Sci High) will each receive $300,000 to create a more student-centric instruction approach beginning in the fall of 2015. An additional set of schools received grants to support exploration and piloting of personalized strategies.

The grants are being funded by the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), the Booth-Bricker Fund, Baptist Community Ministries, and Educate Now! They are part of a broader plan by NSNO and Educate Now! to increase the use of personalized learning in schools across the city.

For more information on these grants and other personalized learning initiatives from NSNO and Educate Now!, click here.

NSNO and Educate Now! anticipate releasing another round of grants for personalized learning in the 2015-16 school year.

ICYMI: The Atlantic looks at the Lost Children of Katrina

Sunday, April 12, 2015, 11:36 pm

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

The Atlantic looks at the Lost Children of Katrina – the New Orleans children who spent years after Katrina in a nomadic exile that severely disrupted their education.

In response to the latest CREDO study, Fortune Magazine says urban charter schools are succeeding – so get out of their way. In cities where charters are achieving significant gains, enrollment opportunities should be expanded so more kids can take advantage of them.

Common Core is unpopular in Louisiana when you call it Common Core Academic Standards, an LSU survey finds, but 67% of citizens and 71% of Republicans support the concept when it is just referred to as “academic standards.”

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By the Numbers: The Graduating Class of 2014

Monday, April 6, 2015, 10:32 pm

The state just released new data on cohort graduation rates and college enrollment rates. Continuing our By the Numbers series, Educate Now! takes a look at the class of 2014.


100% more students enrolled in college

In 2005, only 675 Orleans Parish Public School graduates enrolled in a two or four year college the following fall, compared to 1,360 graduates from New Orleans’ class of 2014.

Even though the 2014 senior class was much smaller than the 2005 senior class (2,654 students versus 3,753), our schools sent a much higher proportion of students to college. This tremendous increase is a testament to the hard work of educators in New Orleans.


 2005 vs. 2014

2005 2014
Number of seniors
3573 2654
Number of graduates
2878 2305
Number enrolled in college
675 1360
Percent of senior class in college
19% 51%

65% of Black males graduated on time: New Orleans outperforms nation

With a 65% Black male graduation rate1, New Orleans is now outperforming the state and the nation. The Schott Foundation recently published Black Lives Matter: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males. In 2013:
  • The national graduation rate for Black males was 59%.
  • Louisiana’s graduation rate for Black males was 59%.
  • New Orleans graduation rate for Black males was 65%.

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ICYMI: A Week of Research

Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 8:37 am

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

New Orleans Charters Outperform

Charter schools in urban areas are outperforming traditionally operated public schools, according to CREDO’s latest report. CREDO has been studying charter school performance for a number of years. This latest study included 41 cities and found students in urban charters gained 40 more days of math and 28 more days of reading than their peers in traditional public schools. New Orleans’ results were among the strongest:

  • Students in New Orleans charters gained the equivalent of an extra 86 days in math and 63 days in English compared to their peers in traditional public schools. (Louisiana assumes a 180 day school year, so about one half of a school year extra in math and one-third in reading)
  • This puts New Orleans 7th out of 41 urban areas studied.

Other Research

US News and World Report focuses on New Orleans public schools in a story on equity in school choice. This story was in response to a report from the Education Research Alliance (ERA) on how schools in New Orleans respond to competition. Both US News and World Report and the Times-Picayune point out how New Orleans is ensuring equity of access through OneApp.

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News Alert: OPSB seeking interim to fill Ira Thomas’ seat

Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 12:57 pm

The Orleans Parish School Board is seeking an interim replacement for board member Ira Thomas.
Thomas resigned Friday, March 6 upon being charged with taking a bribe.

The school board has 10 business days to find a replacement to fill Thomas’ seat until a Special Election is called. They are hoping to appoint a qualified person at their March 17 meeting, but if they can’t agree on a candidate, Governor Bobby Jindal must appoint someone.

OPSB has put out a call for candidates. Anyone interested must hand deliver a Letter of Interest to the OPSB office by noon on Thursday, March 12. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, a resident of Louisiana for the last two years and of District 1 for the last year.

OPSB is hoping to get someone well-versed on school matters who “can just jump on board.” This is important since the school board is in the middle of negotiating a contract with its new superintendent, Henderson Lewis Jr.

To apply:

Letters of Interest should be addressed to Board President Seth Bloom and hand delivered to the OPSB Board Office, 3520 General de Gaulle Drive, Suite 5055, New Orleans by noon on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

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ICYMI: Common Core Heating Up

Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 11:07 pm

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

Common Core Heats Up:

  • Students take the tests in March, and we will see how many parents opt out.
  • BESE meets tomorrow to discuss a common core compromise, including reviewing the standards, freezing school letter grades, and delaying use of test results in teacher value-added evaluations for another year.
  • Governor Jindal unveiled his budget, which would decimate funds for key tests. If Louisiana does not have English and math tests in grades 3-8, it risks losing more than $500 million in federal aid. And, the renewal of the federal NCLB legislation does not offer a way out. Every version so far keeps the testing requirement.
  • Scott Angel (R), David Vitter (R), and John Bel Edwards (D) have all come out against common core, calling for Louisiana standards and for Louisiana to not participate in the PARCC test. Jay Dardenne (R) supports the common core standards and comparing our students’ performance to those from across the country.

New Orleans in the News:

A delegation from Georgia, including Governor Nathan Deal, visited New Orleans last weekto hear about lessons learned as Georgia works on its Opportunity School District, modeled after the RSD.

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ICYMI: Expulsions drop 39% in RSD

Thursday, February 19, 2015, 11:39 pm

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

Fewer students are being expelled from New Orleans public schools. RSD schools saw a 39% decrease in the first half of 2014-15 compared to the same time last year, and the citywide average is down 21%. Educate Now! agrees with the Times-Picayune that this news is encouraging. To download expulsion rates by school, click here.

Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, wants voters to create a state-run district to take over struggling schools. The idea is modeled after Louisiana’s RSD and is a drastic departure from Georgia’s current, more passive approach to failing schools.

An overhaul of No Child Left Behind cleared the U.S. House Education Committee along party lines. The committee approved major revisions, including how title funds would be allocated.

This is why Common Core matters. At all levels, including the top 10% of students, the United States trails other industrialized nations in the skills needed to compete in the global labor market.

Governor Jindal proposed a series of education reforms at a D.C. breakfast as part of his 2016 presidential preparations. Many were an extension of the New Orleans experience, including expanding charters, removing caps on the number of charter schools allowed, and giving principals a more active role in their schools’ direction.

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By the Numbers: High School Performance 2005 vs. 2014

Monday, February 9, 2015, 11:03 am

The state just released the 2014 ACT scores for public schools. Continuing our By the Numbers series, Educate Now! takes a look at high school performance.

ACT Performance

New Orleans has seen strong gains since 2005.

The growth in ACT scores comes even as the percentage of seniors taking the test has increased significantly. (The state now requires students to take the ACT as part of high school accountability; in 2005, students were not required to take the ACT.)

Since 2005, as the percentage of seniors taking the ACT increased, New Orleans improved its composite score1 from 17 to 18.4, while the state declined from 19.8 to 19.2.

Both RSD and OPSB have seen gains in their ACT scores2.

  • During this time (2005 to 2014), the RSD improved its ACT average by 2 points, more than any other district in the state. It is one of only 5 districts that improved more than 1 point during this time.
  • OPSB improved by 0.8 points.
ACT Scores Over Time
Class of 2005 Class of
19.7 20.5 0.8
Schools transferred to RSD
14.4 16.4 2
New Orleans (OPSB + RSD)
17 18.4 1.4
19.8 19.2 – 0.6
If comparing performance, RSD schools serve a very different population than OPSB, with more African American students, more poor students, and more students with special needs. Some OPSB high schools have selective admissions, and only three of seven OPSB high schools participate in EnrollNOLA (OneApp). RSD data includes the alternative high schools in the city, and every RSD high school is open-admissions and participates in EnrollNOLA.

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In case you missed it …

Sunday, February 1, 2015, 11:23 pm

ICYMI … Your mini news clippings

Common Core update: Some parents in Lafayette are threatening to boycott the PARCC tests scheduled for March 16-20. Governor Jindal wants BESE to offer these parents an alternative, but that appears highly unlikely.

Henderson Lewis’ selection as superintendent marks a new chapter for the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). Andre Perry solicits national and local opinions on what Mr. Lewis should do when he becomes OPSB’ s next superintendent. The Times-Picayune is hopeful his selection represents a fresh start. Most illuminating is Danielle Dreilinger’s profile of Mr. Lewis’ diverse background.

In this interview with the Reason Foundation, Superintendent Patrick Dobard discusses the history of the Recovery School District (RSD), how closing failing schools has been difficult but has helped students, and how the RSD, unlike traditional school districts, is able to innovate and respond quickly to changing needs.

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New Orleans by the Numbers: Public School Enrollment

Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 9:55 pm

Educate Now! looks at the public school student enrollment over the past ten years – from October 1, 2004 (the last data before Katrina) to this school year.

The Highlights

Schools are serving a more ethnically diverse student population.

Enrollment Citywide

A higher percentage of students are economically disadvantaged*.


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