In the News – November 3, 2013

OneApp Begins

OneApp 2014-15 opens Monday to accommodate selective New Orleans schools
Times-Picayune – November 1, 2013
OneApp, the centralized enrollment program for New Orleans, begins Monday for the next school year.

  • Almost all schools in the city (RSD direct- run and charter, Type 2 charters, OPSB direct-run, and some OPSB charters) are participating. Eleven OPSB charter schools are not.
  • OneApp will be accommodating some schools and/or programs with admission standards. These schools have a December 20 deadline.
  • Applications for other schools will not be due until February.
  • This year, families do not need to complete an Intent to Return form. Families only participate in OneApp if their child wants or needs a new school for 2014-15.

School Performance Improves Across the State

Transforming New Orleans schools: Editorial
Times-Picayune – October 27, 2013
The Times-Picayune says we should celebrate the transformation of New Orleans public schools. No one could have predicted this dramatic a shift in so short a time – fewer than 6% of students are now in failing schools.

Drop in grades for La. high schools sparks dispute
The Advocate – November 3, 2013
Fewer Louisiana high schools received an A or B grade this year, and some districts are saying the new ACT component is the reason for the drop. Educate Now!’s founder, Leslie Jacobs, argues that high school scores were inflated last year and needed to be corrected.

School performance scores improve across Louisiana in 2012-13
Times-Picayune – October 24, 2013
School performance has improved across Louisiana – 43% of schools received an A or B grade in 2012-13, compared to 36% the year before, and only 8% of schools are failing, down from 12% in 2011-12. Statewide, nine school systems received an A grade, including OPSB, St. Bernard, and St. Tammany, and only three school systems are failing.

Assessing Alternative Schools

How to Measure the Progress of ‘Alternative’ Charters
Education Week – October 23, 2013
According to a new report by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, measuring the progress of alternative charter schools is a challenge. Traditional benchmarks don’t work for schools that actively recruit dropouts, pregnant teenagers, students with a history of delinquency or substance abuse, English-language learners, and other at-risk student populations. In New Orleans, four charter high schools are considered alternative, and all four received a failing grade this year. The Louisiana Department of Education is now discussing other ways to evaluate whether an alternative school should have its charter renewed.

Louisiana Headlines

Jindal appoints former educator, lawmaker to replace Waguespack on BESE
Times-Picayune – October 18, 2013
Governor Bobby Jindal announced that he has selected Jane Holland Smith to replace Stephen Waguespack on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Smith is a former state legislator and former superintendent of the Bossier Parish School System. She is one of three at-large members appointed to BESE by the governor.

State to review teacher evaluations
The Advocate – October 18, 2013
BESE wants a review of Louisiana’s new teacher evaluation system to determine if the value-added formula is a reliable and valid way to measure teacher performance.

State education board approves changes to Common Core
The Advocate – October 18, 2013
Responding to fears that Common Core will lead to a “federalized curriculum,” BESE voted to give local school districts autonomy in picking instructional materials and to allow parents to examine textbooks and request exemptions if they object to high school reading requirements. To protect student privacy, the state will use numerical identifiers, not Social Security numbers, on Common Core tests.

National News

The Shanghai Secret
New York Times – October 22, 2013
Shanghai topped the world charts in the 2009 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) exams. Thomas Friedman traveled to Shanghai and discovered that the secret to their success is that there is no secret. Shanghai is just better at applying the fundamentals of school success across an entire system – a strong commitment to teacher training and peer-to-peer learning, the deep involvement of parents, a commitment to the highest standards, and a culture that values education and respects teachers.

Study: New teachers more educated, of higher caliber
Hechinger Report – October 30, 2013
A new study found that teaching is attracting a more academically successful group of people compared to previous years. In 2007-08, 26% percent of new teachers entered the classroom with a master’s degree, compared to 17% two decades earlier. In addition, first-year teachers in 2008-09 had an average SAT score that was 8 points higher than the average score in 2001 and (for the first time) slightly higher than their peers entering other fields.

Study: Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West
Washington Post – October 16, 2013
A report from the Southern Education Foundation found that in 17 states low income children make up the majority of students in public schools. Thirteen of those states are in the South. This is a marked increase from 2000, when low income students made up the majority in only 4 states. The study also found that while achievement scores have increased for most student groups, huge gaps still remain between low income and higher income students – particularly in regions where less is spent per student.

In Memphis, city schools are at the epicenter of controversial changes
Hechinger Report – October 29, 2013
Tennessee is turning around the lowest performing schools in Memphis using a program modeled after the RSD. Their Achievement District is reshaping its public schools with decentralized control, more charter schools, increased use of data to determine which schools stay open, and a greater reliance on new teachers who come through alternative preparation programs. It has seen modest gains, but the Achievement District is facing administrative challenges and pushback from local communities and veteran teachers.

Study: Dual credit benefits kids in richer schools
Hechinger Report – October 30, 2013
A recent study found access to dual-credit college courses was not the same for white and nonwhite students in Illinois. Researchers found more students were enrolled in dual-credit college courses in suburban and rural high schools while urban schools serving larger proportions of low-income and nonwhite students had much lower rates of participation.

Charter Boom May Have Negative Fiscal Impact on Districts, Report Says
Education Week – October 16, 2013
A report from Moody’s Investors Service found that while most public school districts have managed the rise of charter schools without a negative fiscal impact, it can be harder for districts in economically challenged areas to remain financially viable as charters continue to grow. Factors include decreased income due to declining enrollment in traditional public schools and an inability to adjust operations in response to charter school growth. Editor’s note: OPSB’s bond rating has improved to AA+ even as 90% of the schools in the city are now charter schools.

Local Updates

Envision change 10 years out, superintendent search firm tells Orleans Parish School Board
Times-Picayune – October 17, 2013
The search firm in charge of finding the next school superintendent says OPSB’s first step should be to refine its vision for New Orleans public schools. To do this, OPSB is scheduling focus groups with various chambers of commerce, neighborhood associations, the Urban League, charter school leaders, and university officials. In addition, OPSB has set up a survey on their website where the general public can also weigh in on what characteristics they feel are important in a new superintendent. Editor’s note: None of the survey choices include a superintendent who understands charter schools and quality authorizing!

Ira Thomas, Orleans Parish School Board president, to challenge Sheriff Marlin Gusman
Times-Picayune – October 17, 2013
OPSB President Ira Thomas announced that he will run for Orleans Parish Sheriff in February’s election.

New Orleans schools have comparatively high rate of testing irregularities on standardized tests
The Lens – October 31, 2013
The Lens examined testing data from 2011 and found that six of the city’s 92 campuses (or 7%) had testing incidents that led to scores being voided. This is higher than the rest of the state where only 2% of schools had tests voided. Louisiana does an erasure analysis and checks for signs of plagiarism on every test taken.

New Orleans high schools: then and now
Times-Picayune – October 20, 2013
Danielle Dreilinger looks at the high school landscape in New Orleans and how it has changed since Katrina – with 13 new high schools, 10 school closures, and one merger. Only 11 current high schools existed before the storm, and two of these used to be half-day programs (NOCCA and Sci High).

School Stories

How to Make Kindness The Foundation of School Culture
Huffington Post – October 22, 2013
Huffington Post looks at Lusher Charter School and its efforts to make kindness the foundation of its school culture.

Creating high school traditions at KIPP Renaissance: the vote for homecoming court
Times-Picayune – October 29, 2013
KIPP Renaissance High School has its first senior class and with it comes a whole year of other firsts – the first homecoming court, game and dance, first senior ring ceremony, first senior gift to the school, and the first senior college applications.

Toxic metals at Booker T. Washington High School site must be addressed, Recovery School District contractor says
Times-Picayune – October 30, 2013
An environmental quality survey found toxic heavy metals on the Booker T. Washington High School campus, which will require remediation before the planned $55 million in new construction can begin. Remediation will involve the removal of 3 feet of soil in areas not covered by the new building’s concrete foundation or parking lots.

Akili Academy Finds A New Home In An Historic, Renovated Building
WWNO – November 1, 2013
For its first five years, Akili Academy was located in modular trailers in Gentilly, but it has a new, permanent home this year in the renovated William Frantz Elementary School building in the 9th Ward.

John McDonogh High School continues to struggle under charter operator
The Advocate – October 30, 2013
This year, John McDonogh High School received an SPS of 9.3, one of the lowest School Performance Scores in the city, and its enrollment has fallen again for the 2013-14 school year. Jarvis DeBerry wonders if the school’s participation in “Blackboard Wars” is a self-inflicted injury and one reason for the school’s challenges.

November Ed Tech NOLA MeetUp

Educate Now! wants to support better use of technology to improve student learning. Ed Tech MeetUp NOLA is a monthly gathering of teachers, educators, edupreneurs, and lifelong learners who are interested in connecting to discuss how technology is being used to transform education in New Orleans. To receive future notices, sign up with Ed Tech NOLA MeetUp or reply to this email ( and Educate Now! will send you reminders. This month’s MeetUp will showcase free and easy-to-use tools for the classroom. Free pizza and beer will be provided.

Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 – 6:30 to 8:00 pm
Location: 4.0 Schools, 643 Magazine Street, Suite 206
Click here to RSVP.