ICYMI: Let’s Fact Check

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

Fact Checking the New Orleans Reforms

Last week, Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance (ERA) published its findings on New Orleans’ student and school academic performance since Katrina. Their research showed that a typical school student’s scores rose by 8 to 15 percentage points.

“Even the lower end of that range suggests large positive effects,” ERA Director Doug Harris wrote. “We are not aware of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short time.”

Their analysis ruled out other factors that might have led to the improved scores.

  • The gains were NOT due to changes in student population.
  • The gains were NOT due to schools focusing their efforts on the “bubble students,” those right at the cusp of passing.
  • The gains were NOT due to pushing students out of school. The number of expulsions, suspensions, and days suspended are either unchanged or lower than in the pre-storm period.

ERA’s report was at the center of much of the Katrina anniversary coverage this past week.

ERA released two other papers that did not generate the same media attention:

  • The New Orleans OneApp, which concluded that OneApp is more efficient, fair, and transparent than the decentralized choice system that preceded it. But the system is also more complex, leading some families to misunderstand and distrust it.
  • Many Options in New Orleans Choice System, which found considerable differentiation among New Orleans schools, even among schools under the same governing agency or charter management organization. Researchers grouped schools based on similar characteristics, e.g., a college-prep mission, selective admissions, school hours, grade span, sports, extracurriculars, and support staff levels.

Other 10-Year Anniversary Stories

In The Charter Solution, the Washington Examiner reveals how charter schools in the rest of the country went above and beyond to help children after Katrina and reports on what New Orleans charters are doing today to improve the lives of their students.

In his presentation to BESE, Superintendent Patrick Dobard discussed RSD’s accomplishments over the past decade, including striking increases in test scores, graduation rates and college entrance in RSD schools. Improvements like these, Dobard said, “there’s no denying, unless you’re in the denial business. View the full presentation.

In this op-ed, Donna Brazile says the major educational gains we’ve seen in public schools are one example of how, after Katrina, New Orleans focused not just on short-term solutions but on building long-term resilience.

In Reaching and Inspiring African-American Students: A Case Study in New Orleans, Jamar McNeely, the CEO of InspireNOLA Charter Schols, reflects on his personal journey.

Louisiana Headlines

Louisiana students achieved a record number of Advanced Placement credits last year. New Orleans exceeded Louisiana’s average pass rate (37% vs. 31%), but the majority of students who received AP credits attended either Ben Franklin or Lusher, both selective-admissions schools. Download AP results by district and school.

A district court judge says Louisiana owes local public schools $137 million because state lawmakers didn’t properly pass previous school funding formulas.

The Louisiana Department of Education launched a new, comprehensive “All things Jump Start” web portal with valuable resources for students, educators and industry leaders. Jump Start offers pathways of study that high school students can use to earn national industry credentials.

The Louisiana Department of Education has proposed a first-of-its-kind school diploma pathway and accountability plan for students with significant disabilities.

Educators and parents have provided nearly 30,000 comments on the state’s Common Core standards for English and math. You can share your opinion using the Louisiana Standards Review website.

In Other News

A report from The New Teacher Project (TNTP) confronts a hard truth about teacher professional development. TNTP says we may think we know what good professional development looks like, but despite districts investing enormous amounts of time and money, most teachers do not improve substantially from year to year – even though many have not yet mastered critical skills.

4.0 Schools is looking for candidates for its fall 2015 Launch Program, an early-stage incubator for education entrepreneurs. Applications are due September 1, 2015.

The board of the Algiers Charter School Association did not renew the term of its president, Juan Hernandez. Allegations surfaced last month that Hernandez took $13,000 from Milestone Academy, a charter he briefly led as chief executive.

New Orleans has released a Calendar of School Start Dates for 2015-16.