In the News – October 5, 2014

NOLA High Schools 

Most New Orleans public high schools beat the odds, study says
Edit: On October 10, 2014, the Cowen Institute retracted this report saying its methodology was flawed. For more, click here.

Louisiana Headlines

Louisiana has second-strongest charter school initiative in the U.S., report says
Louisiana’s charter schools ranked as the second strongest according to a recent report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Louisiana was praised for having charters that served a higher percentage of low-income students and exhibited higher academic growth than traditional public schools.

School transfer data raises questions about accuracy of Louisiana dropout rates
In March, the state Department of Education reviewed transfer records of 34 of the state’s 69 systems and found a third of the 2012-13 exits could not be properly documented. This data calls into question the accuracy of Louisiana’s recordkeeping for students who leave public schools for private school, home school or another state. The department adjusted 2013 graduation rates for the audited school systems before releasing them in July, so any transfers not properly documented were counted as dropouts. The department believes it is a documentation issue and plans to audit every school district next year.

Teachers union sues Louisiana to de-fund some charter schools
The Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) is suing the state to block it from using the MFP to fund Type 2 charter schools. LAE says the state constitution requires the MFP to be distributed through a local school district or through the RSD, but Type 2s, which are authorized by BESE, receive their funds directly. A decision in LAE’s favor could impact three schools in New Orleans: International High School, Lycee Francais and New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy. Editor’s note: International School of Louisiana (ISL) does not receive MFP funding.

National Stories

Harvard-MIT Partnership Opens MOOCs for High Schoolers
EdX, the online learning platform created by Harvard and MIT, is releasing 26 free massive, open, online courses (or MOOCs) covering AP, high school and college level material. EdX hopes these free courses will give more high school students exposure to higher level coursework, allowing them to enter college better prepared and having completed many first-year classes.

Arne Duncan: Schools Must Give Poor and Minority Students Equal Access to Resources
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is putting school districts and states on notice that his department’s Office for Civil Rights can investigate states, districts, and even schools to ensure equal access on everything from high-quality facilities to AP courses. Duncan recommends school and district leaders do a careful evaluation of resources available and address any inequities right away, giving priority to the students most in need.

App teaches kindergartners basic computer coding
ScratchJr is a free app that allows very young children to do basic computer coding, even if they don’t know how to read. Graphical programming blocks allow children to make characters move, jump, talk and change size, add their own voices and sounds, and even insert their own photos. The app was funded by a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help children learn to think creatively and reason systematically.

Local News

New Orleans Schools Face A Surge Of Unaccompanied Minors
The influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America is placing a significant burden on some New Orleans public schools. NPR visited Carver Collegiate Prep, which now serves 59 English Language Learners, up from just a handful in prior years. Carver Prep is determined to give each child a good education, even with limited resources and little state or federal help on the horizon.

What’s the point of the Recovery School District now? Critics wonder
Now that the Recovery School District has gotten out of the business of running schools, critics are asking why it is even needed, but the answer isn’t simple. State law makes it optional for successful charters to return to local control, and no charter has shown interest in putting itself back under the OPSB. In addition, the RSD has taken the lead on much-needed centralized projects, such as OneApp and services for special-needs students.

OneApp will list more New Orleans pre-school programs this year
RSD, OPSB and Agenda for Children are encouraging more preschool programs to participate in OneApp this fall for an August 2015 school start. The goal is to expand enrollment to as many as 2,300 low-income children. By the summer of 2015, all publicly funded early childhood programs in Louisiana must participate in a unified enrollment system.

New Orleans blend of education overhaul and startup zeal sprouts a new kind of business incubator
TheTimes-Picayune profiles 4.0 Schools, the successful incubator of education startups. After almost four years in operation, 4.0 Schools has helped launch 35 entities, including non-profit educational programs and for-profit producers of goods and services. It has gone from being an upstart in New Orleans to being a national leader in education innovation.

Education entrepreneur vote winner looks to build a school that addresses academics and emotions
Dr. Vera Triplett, former Deputy Superintendent for Achievement at the RSD, is planning to open a new charter school in 2016-17 called Noble Minds. Triplett envisions the school as a learning lab, focused on academic and personal development, with plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning and where suspension and expulsion are not an option. Triplett was a member of the 2014 Summer Launch cohort at 4.0 Schools.