ICYMI: Proposed Changes for Louisiana Schools

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

Department Releases Draft Louisiana ESSA Plan

State Supt. John White released a draft framework for how Louisiana can comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind last year. White’s plan includes changes in how public schools are rated, fewer tests, new assistance for persistently struggling schools, and better teacher preparation.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards named his own panel to do a separate review of the state’s public school policies. White says he looks forward to sharing his ideas with them. “This is not a political document,” he said. “We cannot go back to the political squabbles of old.”

White’s draft plan is set for discussion at nine meetings in October and November, including public gatherings and education panels. You can read the plan on the Department of Education’s website.

Divided Over Charter Schools

The African-American community is divided over charter schools. This month, the board of the NAACP will vote on a resolution, approved by its members, calling for a moratorium on new charters. Black Lives Matter took a similar position in their first-ever policy agenda.

In response, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) helped start the Charters Work campaign and sent a letter to the NAACP, signed by 160 Black educators, advocates, lawmakers and religious leaders asking them to reject the moratorium. This group includes Cheryl Brown Henderson, the youngest daughter of the plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education.

Louisiana Weekly says the NAACP and BAEO could learn a lot by looking at New Orleans, where there have been both positive gains and real reasons for concern. The magazine says, “Neither painting all charter operators as evil nor ignoring serious abuses and inequities do anything to honor the children of the experiment.”

Other National Headlines

Google has incorporated student outcomes for over 7,000 colleges and universities directly into its search results. Now, when users search for a college or university, they’ll immediately see data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Score Card, including graduation rate, average total cost with financial aid, average salary after attending that institution, and updated data on acceptance rate and undergraduate tuition and fees.

The White House and the Department of Education released a series of new materials and resources to help elementary, middle, and high schools address sexual assault.

Half of the country’s top 100 liberal arts colleges now have ACT/SAT test-optional or flexible admissions policies, and a record number of colleges and universities report making changes to their ACT/SAT admissions requirements.

Louisiana Stories

A proposed high school school on a barge has won $10 million from XQ: The Super School Project. New Harmony High School is one of ten winners of this national competition, sponsored by the widow of Steve Jobs, to help retool public high schools to prepare students for tomorrow’s economy. The group behind the proposed statewide charter says they plan to locate the school on a barge in Plaquemines Parish and focus on coastal protection.

In a positive sign for Louisiana’s workforce, more students¬†are graduating from the state’s community and technical colleges or transferring from two-year programs to traditional universities. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System says the number of graduates from its programs has increased 26 percent (including industry certificates and associate degrees), and the number of transfers from two- to four-year programs has “increased exponentially.”

Roughly 60,000 Louisiana students were suspended from school last year, according to the Department of Education’s report to the new Advisory Council on Student Behavior and Discipline. A disproportionate number of suspended students were low-income, minority, and disabled, and 8,000 suspended students were in preschool to grade 3. The Advisory Council was appointed to study school discipline policies and report to Louisiana legislators and BESE.

Local News

Ed Navigator evaluated K-8 schools in Orleans and Jefferson to see how well they served low income students. They ranked high poverty schools in each parish according to how much students improved each year, as opposed to how many students reached a certain proficiency level. Orleans and Jefferson each have around 40 high poverty schools. While the average performance in each parish was just about equal, there are large differences between schools within each parish.

New Orleans College Prep plans to expand its preschool program at its Hoffman site next year to serve 228 students from ages 0 to 4. Half of the seats will be tuition based, half will be free through HeadStart, and preferred admission will be given to the children of local school teachers.

OPSB provisionally approved a revised contract for Supt. Henderson Lewis Jr. The contract provides for an increase in Lewis’ annual salary from $180,000 to $205,000, but it does not yet include updated performance objectives.

New Schools for New Orleans launched ACT 23 Fellows, a new pilot program designed to help improve student ACT scores and better prepare students for college level courses.

A proposed low-barrier homeless shelter is drawing opposition from neighborhood school and community groups. The shelter would be located near two schools, and opponents fear that a shelter open to everyone, regardless of mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction, poses a threat to student safety.

InspireNOLA’s two-day event, Rally for Excellence: Inspiring Our Youth, brought together nearly 5,000 people from across the city in a celebration of academic excellence as a means to ending violence and youth poverty.

Shout Out!

Louisiana was awarded $128.1 million in federal education grants through the Teacher Incentive Fund grant competition. The Louisiana Department of Education will receive $66.8 million to strengthen teacher training in rural school systems; the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) will receive $41.6 million to advance principal and teacher leadership in six parishes, including Orleans; and New Schools for New Orleans will receive $19.8 million to help New Orleans schools improve educator effectiveness and retention. For more information, read LDOE’s press release or visit the Teacher Incentive Fund website.