ICYMI: ESSA plan available for public comment

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

ESSA Updates 

An updated framework of Louisiana’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is available for public comment. The revised framework from state Superintendent John White details possible changes to how school performance is rated and how local school systems can apply for federal funding. 

White’s ESSA plan includes less mandatory testing in public schools, but there is debate over how much testing should be reduced. White recommends modest changes; the governor’s panel favors much more, including an end to annual science testing in third through eighth grades; and teachers disagree over whether fewer tests will downgrade the importance of key subjects, especially science.

Other ESSA recommendations are stirring controversy, including how much weight should be given to student growth and how to phase in higher standards over time (whether schools should be graded on a curve).

Other Louisiana News

To address this year’s budget shortfall and to reduce the amount of rainy day funds used to plug the deficit, Louisiana House Republicans have proposed two plans that include mid-year cuts to K-12 education.

A state panel is recommending sweeping changes to public school science standards that will give students a deeper knowledge of subject matter. Louisiana has some of the oldest science standards in the country and was ranked 45th nationally on student science assessments. BESE will vote on the proposed changes in March.

Louisiana has released new evaluations for more than 1,600 preschools and day cares, which replace the star ratings and aim to better measure early care success.

National Headlines

With a historic tiebreaker from Vice President Mike Pence, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education. This was the first time a vice president’s tiebreaker was needed to confirm a Cabinet secretary. When the new Secretary went to visit a public school, protesters tried to block her entrance, causing former Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan to tweet, “Agree or disagree w @BetsyDeVos on any issue, but let’s all agree she really needs to be in public schools. Please let her in.”

A number of colleges and universities are using Big Data to spot students in danger of dropping out. Analyzing hundreds of thousands of student academic and personal records, past and present, they are identifying courses and grades that signal a need for intervention.

Increasing high school math requirements may not be the way to move the country toward STEM excellence, according to a new study, but it is a way to improve completion rates for basic math courses (e.g., algebra, geometry, vocational math) and increase earning potential, particularly for Black high school graduates.

Local Stories

This week, the boards of six RSD charters debated whether to return schools to OPSB control. FirstLine Schools voted Tuesday to transfer its four elementary schools to OPSB oversight. The Choice Foundation discussed two of its schools on Wednesday night but decided to delay voting on the issue. About half of the 49 remaining RSD charters are eligible to return to OPSB control this year, ahead of schedule for the return of all schools.

The National Labor Relations Board rejected Lusher and International High School’s argument that they are in effect government entities and should be exempt from federal laws on unionization. 

The Archdiocese of New Orleans named RaeNell Billiott Houston as school superintendent for the area’s Catholic schools. She will be the first African American to hold this position.

The EF3 tornado that hit New Orleans East caused an estimated $1.7 million in damages to two public schools. ReNEW Schaumburg took a direct hit, and the Sherwood Forest campus of Einstein Charter received damage to electrical systems and fencing. Students at Schaumburg went back to school on Wednesday at the nearby Gaudet campus, where they will complete the school year. For information on how you can help families and schools affected by the tornadoes, click here.

Andy Parker, the co-CEO of New Orleans College Prep, resigned unexpectedly. He was the academic leader for the network, which has been struggling to improve performance at one of its three schools – the D-rated Sylanie Williams charter up for renewal this year.


The New Orleans College and Career Education Center is looking for a founding Executive Director to design, launch and manage operations. The Center will provide high school students with training and credentialing opportunities in partnership with local government, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, and industry partners. Inquiries and applications, comprising a resume and letter of interest, should be sent to: RSDhiring@rsdla.net.

Stand for Children Louisiana is accepting applications for the Education Leadership Institute (ELI). ELI is a five-week program for community members and educators designed to build leadership skills and knowledge about New Orleans’ educational policy landscape. Application materials are due no later than Tuesday, February 21.

UNO is holding a free informational session for aspiring school leaders who are ready to pursue graduate study in educational leadership. The session will be held Wednesday, February 22 at Haynes Academy Library, 1416 Metairie Road. To RSVP for the session, complete the sign up form.