ICYMI: BESE approves school accountability plan

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

BESE Approves White’s ESSA Plan

After a contentious, six hour hearing, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved Supt. John White’s plan for overhauling Louisiana schools – the first step in complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). BESE also approved submitting the plan to federal officials for review in April and not delaying until September as the governor wanted.

The accountability framework adopted by BESE will:

  • Increase the weight given to student academic growth in calculating school performance scores to 25% and include the growth of all students
  • Eliminate the curve (which freezes the percent of D and F schools at the 2013 level) and replace it with a phase in of the new standards
  • Trim standardized testing
  • Devote some federal Title One funds to struggling schools in rural areas

Critics of the plan called for a five month delay, saying there should be more input from stakeholders, but White said his agency has held 136 meetings on ESSA and there will still be months to get input and debate changes to the plan before it would be implemented in the 2017-18 school year.

Patrick Dobard Leaves the RSD

Patrick Dobard is stepping down as superintendent of the Recovery School District. Dobard, a New Orleans native, will continue his work for public school students as CEO of New Schools for New Orleans. During his six years as head of the RSD, schools not only improved academically but also developed essential structures such as the OneApp enrollment system, unified expulsion procedures, and the systemic reduction in out-of-school suspensions. 

The RSD is making additional management changes and focusing attention on other parishes with failing schools. Assistant State Superintendent Kunjan Narechania will oversee statewide school improvement efforts under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as well as the unification of New Orleans schools. Deputy RSD Superintendent Dana Peterson will oversee the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone, a transformation district of charter schools in Baton Rouge.

National Headlines

In one of the most significant special education cases in decades, the Supreme Court ruled that school districts must meet a higher standard when educating students with disabilities. Previous precedent established that individualized education programs must provide “some educational benefit,” but now they must be “appropriately ambitious.” Critics of the decision claim it will dramatically raise the cost of special education for public schools.

At a meeting of big-city school superintendents, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she believes in great public schools, but some remain skeptical. Orleans Parish schools’ superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. agrees with some of DeVos’s ideas (e.g., parent choice and school autonomy), but he said he is troubled by how little she’s said about holding schools accountable when they receive public dollars to serve children; New Orleans is “providing choice, but it’s coupled with a layer of oversight to make sure that the needs of our students are being met,” Lewis said.

President Trump’s budget proposal cuts $9.2 billion (13.5%) from the Department of Education and reduces or eliminates grants for teacher training, after-school programs, and aid to low-income and first-generation college students. Trump’s plan also includes $1.4 billion in funding to expand choice options.

A rape at a Maryland high school, allegedly committed by two undocumented students, has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate, heightening fears of illegal immigrants and raising the issue of a public school’s legal obligation to educate students regardless of immigration status.

Louisiana News

A plan to provide free high speed internet to school districts statewide died due to lack of interest when only 11 of Louisiana’s 69 school districts signed up by the deadline. Senator Conrad Appel called the offer “manna from heaven” and the failure of districts to take advantage of it “unfathomable.”

Local Stories

Einstein Charter Group wants to expand from New Orleans to Little Rock. Einstein is one of thirteen groups that submitted letters of intent to open new charters in Arkansas.

The Recovery School District will not use the former Gentilly Terrace Elementary School site as a permanent location for a school in 2017-18. Instead, it may be used as a swing space for schools in need of temporary room. OBSB will control what happens to the site in 2018-19.

InspireNOLA, which runs the A-rated Alice Harte and Edna Karr schools, has been chosen to take over the management of McDonogh 42. The board of Mary Coghill charter also applied to run McDonogh 42 but withdrew their application, which turned out to have been partly plagiarized from another charter group.

Teachers are pushing to unionize at Mary D. Coghill, the fifth charter where staff have petitioned the board to recognize and negotiate with their teachers’ union. The boards of Morris Jeff and Ben Franklin High School voluntarily recognized the union and have negotiated a collective bargaining agreement. Lusher and International High School have thus far rebuffed unionization. Lusher teachers voted against it, and International High School is maintaining it’s a government body and legally exempt from the labor board’s jurisdiction. While the National Labor Relations Board rejected that reasoning, many expect Pres. Trump’s appointees to the board will rehear the case and reverse this decision.

NOLA.com highlights 28 celebrities who attended New Orleans area high schools, including musician Trombone Shorty (Warren Easton and NOCCA), and actors Tyler Perry (Walter Cohen), Patricia Clarkson (O. Perry Walker), and Wendell Pierce (Ben Franklin and NOCCA).


The Alliance for Diversity and Excellence is holding a panel discussion on How to Be an Effective Leader in the New Orleans Charter Landscape Wednesday, April 5, at 6:00 pm at Dooky Chase Restaurant, 2301 Orleans Avenue.