ICYMI: Facts on Statewide ACT Results

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

2016 ACT: Just the Facts

A new fact sheet on ACT performance from the state Department of Education shows Louisiana is closing the performance gap with the national average. While the nation’s average composite score declined 0.2 since 2014, Louisiana’s increased 0.3, from 19.2 in 2014 to 19.5 in 2016.

The state ranked 13th out of 18 states that require all students take the ACT and 3rd among the seven southern states where the ACT is mandatory. Nationally, Louisiana ranked 44th in 2016, up from 48th in 2014. For information on New Orleans’ ACT results, view Educate Now!’s 2016 ACT analysis.

OPSB Election Updates

Cynthia Cade decided not to appeal, which means she is officially disqualified from the race for OPSB’s 2nd District (Gentilly, New Orleans East). Ethan Ashley will become the District 2 school board member effective 1/1/17. Ashley is the 4th school board member who will serve this coming term without an election, joining John Brown, Sarah Usdin and Ben Kleban.

Ben Kleban, who was elected outright to OPSB’s 5th District (Uptown) when his opponent withdrew, says he will resign from NOLA College Prep before the end of the year in order to avoid any conflict of interest.

Local attorney Morris “Moe” Reed Jr. suspended his campaign, leaving incumbent Leslie Ellison and Walter Umrani in the race for OPSB’s 4th District (Algiers, French Quarter, Marigny, Bywater).

Despite the spirited debate over the future of New Orleans public schools, the school board elections attracted few candidates. The lack of candidates has Stephanie Grace wondering if the community at large thinks the debate is over now that schools are returning to local control.

More on Louisiana Student Performance

Louisiana public school students are reaching higher levels of real proficiency on state LEAP tests, but there’s still a long way to go. Achievement gaps are widening for African American and low-income students, and even in the state’s top-performing districts (including Plaquemines, St. Charles and St. Tammany) close to half of students did not reach the state’s goal of Mastery. For information on New Orleans’ student performance, view Educate Now!’s 2016 LEAP analysis. 

More Louisiana students earned a qualifying score of 3, 4, or 5 on Advanced Placement Exams in 2016. The number of students earning a qualifying score has increased 11% since 2015 and 108% since 2012. Credits earned by students with a qualifying score are transferable to nearly any college in the nation and all colleges in Louisiana.

Other State News

Twenty-two districts in southern Louisiana were forced to close because of the recent, devastating floods. The latest reports estimate that 265,000 public school children were affected by school closures. Most schools that are still closed plan to reopen within a couple of weeks, but school leaders are concerned they won’t have enough teachers. Approximately 4,000 teachers and other critical staff (including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals and janitors) have been displaced by the floods.

Of the 362 voucher students waitlisted due to budget shortfalls, almost half have been cleared to enroll in private schools. In metro New Orleans, 138 students have been cleared and 48 remain. State Superintendent John White told schools if they agreed to take waitlisted students now, with no promise of more than a token payment, he would try to get more money later in the year.

Larry Carter, president of the United Teachers of New Orleans, has been chosen as the interim president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. He replaces Steve Monaghan, who retired after nearly 13 years.

State Superintendent John White got a favorable job review from BESE, receiving a 3.166 out of 4 on the same rating system used to evaluate public school teachers.

National Headlines

Recently, both the N.A.A.C.P. and Black Lives Matter called for a moratorium on charter schools, claiming they have exacerbated segregation, especially in the way they select and discipline students. Other leaders in the Black community strongly disagree, saying charters are a lifeline for children stuck in failing schools, and traditional public schools have perpetuated racism in many ways over the years. An op-ed in U.S. News & World Report also challenged charter opponents, citing studies that show traditional schools are equally guilty of handpicking students with higher test scores and “counseling out” or expelling difficult students.

Chester Finn of the Fordham Institute wrote an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan asking them to focus their K-12 philanthropy on innovations outside the system. He says philanthropy’s greatest asset isn’t money, “it’s independence, the singular ability to do things that government cannot or will not do.”

Boston University and Davidson College are using massive open online courses (MOOCs) to offer AP classes in physics and math that public high schools don’t have the capacity to provide.

An early look at 2016 Advanced Placement Tests shows more students are taking AP tests in STEM subjects, such as physics, computer science, and calculus. Scores in STEM subjects also continue to rise even with the increase in test takers.

A report from the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Brookings Institution identifies four causesof the lack of diversity in the teaching workforce: (1) fewer minorities earn the college degrees necessary to become teachers; (2) more white students major in education compared to minority students, and more white education majors say they want to teach after college; (3) white education majors are hired at greater rates than minority education majors; and (4) white teachers have higher retention rates than minority teachers.

More Local Stories

Senator Mary Landrieu praised New Orleans charter schools for achieving significant gains in student and school performance. “The evidence is compelling,” she says. Public charter schools have raised graduation rates, lowered drop out rates, and increased college enrollment.

New Orleans educators faced off in federal court over the new differentiated funding formula for public schools. The hearings were for a preliminary injunction to stop the formula from being implemented, part of Lusher and Lake Forest’s lawsuit against OPSB and Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr.

OPSB has turned over operation of its troubled Youth Study Center, a school for incarcerated juveniles awaiting trial, to the national nonprofit Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, which is known for tackling the academic deficits faced by juvenile delinquents.

The Cowen Institute released its annual chart on the school governance structure. It provides an overview of the 2016-17 governance structure of New Orleans public schools, and lists new schools, schools that are transitioning from RSD to OPSB, and schools that are adding grade levels.