What Does N.O. Think About Education Reforms

There has been much discussion about how folks really view education reforms in New Orleans. Last week, Tulane’s Cowen Institute released a 2013 public opinion poll providing data that replaces pure speculation with poll results on how voters feel about key issues.

Key Findings

Voters agreed more than they disagreed, reflecting consensus on some key points:

  • Support for school choice for families, with only 21% wanting a return to neighborhood schools;
  • Replacing operators of low-performing schools with charter operators who have demonstrated success (65%);
  • The need for the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) to make structural and operational changes before schools are returned (65%), with a strong preference (41%) for a local school board with a mix of elected and appointed members; only 16% of voters believe OPSB as currently structured should have oversight of all charter schools.
  • While black and white voters disagreed on when to return schools, the majority (55%) feel return should be in the more distant future (3-5 years) or never.

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In the News – April 22, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • New Orleans and Innovation
  • Education Nation Comes to New Orleans
  • Louisiana Headlines
  • National Education Stories
  • Local News

New Orleans and Innovation

The Big Comeback: Is New Orleans America’s Next Great Innovation Hub?
Atlantic Monthly – April 8, 2013
New Orleans had a choice after Katrina – curl into a wet grave; rebuild as it was; or reinvent itself. Today the city has become a hub of innovation and an incubator for new entrepreneurs. This choice reveals both the tantalizing allure, and the deep challenges, of reinventing a city.

Can a ‘Moneyball’ Approach Turn Around New Orleans Schools?
National Journal – April 13, 2013
A strong focus on student data and analytics is one way schools like Sci Academy are changing public education in New Orleans. The challenge going forward is to build on the city’s successes – improved test scores, a graduation rate on par with the national average – while addressing tough challenges, including services for children with disabilities and not enough high-quality schools.

TFA Alumni Aid New Teachers in New Orleans
Education Week – April 19, 2013
The influx of new, inexperienced teachers to New Orleans schools continues to spark debate between those who point to significant gains in student performance as a sign of success and those who see high teacher turnover and attrition rates as indicators of failure. Two TFA alums started a support group called the New Teachers’ Roundtable to help new teachers cope with their experiences and understand their role in this city’s history and schools.

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Close to 80% of Students Graduating on Time!

The state has released the four-year cohort graduation rates for 2012, and the news is good for New Orleans.

The combined graduation rate for all New Orleans public schools rose to 77.8%.

Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate by District
New Orleans = OPSB, RSD, charter and traditional schools

  • The New Orleans graduation rate of 77.8% compares well to the rest of the country. According to the U.S. Department of Education report released in November, in 2011 the national average graduation rate for African American students was 60%, and the national average for white students was 76%.
    • In New Orleans, public school enrollment is 88% African American, 6% white and 6% other.
  • New Orleans outperformed the state of Louisiana (72.3%).
  • New Orleans also outperformed Shreveport (63.4%) Baton Rouge (66%) and Jefferson Parish (70.4%).
  • RSD-New Orleans is among the most-improved districts, going from a graduation rate of 58.8% in 2011 to 67.7% in 2012.
  • RSD-New Orleans ranks #49, outperforming Baton Rouge and Shreveport. The RSD took over the worst performing high schools in the state. This progress in just a few years is remarkable.
  • OPSB has the highest graduation rate in the state, although it dropped from 93.8% in 2011 to 89.3% in 2012.

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In the News: April 8, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

Common Core is Coming  

Louisiana overhauling teaching goals, standardized tests in effort to raise the bar for students
Times-Picayune – March 22, 2013
This article gives a good overview of the major changes coming as Louisiana raises the education bar again, implementing the new, national set of education standards called the Common Core. To help students meet the new goals, textbooks must be ordered, computers upgraded, lesson plans updated, and new tests developed. Louisiana has joined 22 states in using the PARCC tests for English and math, which will be much more rigorous than the current LEAP tests. The tests won’t go into effect until late 2014, but teachers will start teaching to the new standards this fall. Educators are encouraged to look at the PARCC sample items and prototypes to help them prepare.

Editor’s note: New York and Georgia are ahead of Louisiana in developing their new curricula, and both states are offering all of their materials for free online. Visit EngageNY.org or GeorgiaStandards.org for more information.
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