2013 School Performance Scores Released

New Orleans Gains Continue!

I am amazed and awed by the continued academic improvement of our schools and students. In 8 years:

  • New Orleans has gone from 62% of students attending failing schools to 5%.
  • We have moved up in the state rankings from 67th to 38th.
  • We have shown robust improvement on the ACT.
  • We have more high performing, high poverty schools than anywhere else in Louisiana.

Congratulations to the remarkable educators across the city. Incredibly well done!

Only 5% of students now attend a failing school –
down from 62% in 2005. 

In 2004-05, 78 public schools in New Orleans, enrolling over 38,000 students, were failing. Today, only 9 schools in the city, enrolling 2,481 students, are failing.*

The End of Failing Schools in New Orleans Is In Sight
Percent of students in failing schools 2005 vs. 2013

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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? Continue reading

Revisionist History

High School Performance: Then and Now
Or … Leslie’s Rant

A few months ago, I went on WBOK radio to discuss public schools in New Orleans. A number of callers, as well as one of the hosts, disputed the fact that our schools are getting better. I readily acknowledge that we have room for improvement, but quite frankly, I am tired of the revisionist history some folks insist on using to rationalize their opposition to the school reforms taking place in New Orleans.

There cannot be honest disagreement, based on any semblance of facts, on whether schools are doing a better job educating students today versus 2005 – THEY ARE SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER.

To make my point, let’s look at the TOPS data, which is compiled by the Office of Student Financial Assistance (not the Department of Education). Louisiana offers qualifying students a scholarship to a 4-year (TOPS Opportunity1) or 2-year (TOPS Tech) college based on a combination of GPA, coursework, and ACT scores. OSFA has been compiling this data since TOPS began, and the standard for earning a scholarship is the same in 2013 as it was in 2005, so it’s a pretty good measurement to compare high school performance.

So let’s compare.

New Orleans has made remarkable gains since 2005. 

In 2013, 38% of our graduates qualified for TOPS scholarships, an increase of more than 50% from the 2005 rate of 25%.

TOPS Eligibility

# Graduates

View LOSFA’s 2013 TOPS report.

But this isn’t the real story.

Critics of the current reforms say they don’t like that schools are run by two governing bodies – RSD/BESE and OPSB. They want to go back to just one system.

They forget that in 2005 New Orleans also had two school systems: a system of “good” schools and one of “bad” schools – separate and very unequal.

These two unequal systems are vividly captured in the 2005 TOPS data. Continue reading

In the News – September 18, 2013

In this edition of In the News:

  • TFA Boosts Learning
  • OPSB Updates
  • Teacher Evaluation – Compass Results
  • Other Louisiana Headlines
  • National Stories
  • Local News

TFA Boosts Learning

TFA Teachers Shown to Boost Secondary Math Learning
Education Week – September 11, 2013
A rigorous, federally funded study examined the impact of Teach For America on student learning in math and found that:

  • Students of TFA teachers outperformed university trained teachers and teachers from other alternative programs.
  • Students of inexperienced TFA teachers (teaching for 3 years or less) outperformed students of more experienced teachers.
  • The difference in performance was equivalent to about 2½ months of additional learning.

The authors concluded that filling positions with TFA teachers, even if they leave after a few years, would still lead to higher math achievement than filling the same positions with non-TFA teachers who remain in their positions for longer.

The study looked at both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years and looked at thousands of students and hundreds of teachers in eight different states. As the headline from this Washington Post article states, “TFA is a deeply divisive program. It also works.”

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