New SPS Calculations for 2012-13 School Year

When School Performance Scores (SPS) are released this fall (2012 scores), they will be based on the same formula as in the past, except the score for a failing school increases from 65 to 75.

Next year at this time, however, the 2013 School Performance Scores will be calculated very differently. Here are some of the highlights:

Scale: The simplified scale will run between 150 and 0. (Currently it runs from 200 to 0.)

School Grades: An SPS of 100 will equal an A; an SPS of less than 50 will equal an F.

K-8 Schools:

  • LEAP and iLeap – Schools will not receive points for scores below Basic; English and math test scores will be double weighted for all grades.
  • Attendance – Will not be part of the SPS calculation.

High Schools: The changes in calculating the SPS for high schools are more significant. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Schools: Voucher Performance

Performance is uneven in traditional public schools. Performance is uneven in charter schools. It should come as no surprise that performance is uneven in nonpublic schools.

Let’s look at two schools participating in the Orleans voucher pilot: St. Leo the Great and Upperroom Bible Church Academy.

  • Last year, St. Leo had 136 voucher students; Upperroom Bible had 74.
  • Both began participation 4 years ago, beginning with students in grades K-3.
  • Both had more than 60% of their total student population receiving vouchers.
  • Students enrolling in either school from grades 1 and up came from a failing school.
  • Students at both schools took the same state tests – iLeap and LEAP.

But the similarities stop here. Continue reading

Drop Out Rate Cut by 60% Since Katrina

The annual drop out rate1 for New Orleans public schools (OPSB + RSD) has plummeted 60% since Katrina, falling from 11.4% in 2004-05 to 4.1% in 2010-11.

At current enrollment, this translates into 900 fewer dropouts per year.

We Continue to Close the Gap!

New Orleans’ drop out rate is now down to the state average. In 2004-05, we had the state’s third highest drop out rate. Continue reading

2012 K-8 Test Scores Released

The K-8 student test scores for Louisiana were released today, and New Orleans continues to improve.

Test Score Highlights 

  • For the 6th year in a row, student performance is up.
  • Growth was less robust this year. While the RSD outperformed the state, for the first time since Katrina, OPSB did not.
  • New Orleans Combined (OPSB +RSD) tied the state with a 2 point gain in the percentage of students Basic or above.
  • New Orleans students performed better than last year in all four subjects (English, Math, Science and Social Studies).
  • We reduced the percentage of students performing in the lowest category (Unsatisfactory).
  • We increased the percentage of students performing above grade level (Mastery and Advanced). Continue reading

More New Orleans Graduates College and Career Ready

One of the key goals of K-12 education is to give our students the educational foundation they need to be college or career ready. In Louisiana, we have a good benchmark to measure this preparedness – what percent of our students qualify for TOPS, a program that provides two- and four-year merit-based scholarships to Louisiana public colleges and universities.

Educate Now! recently reviewed the TOPS data, and New Orleans continues to close the gap.

  • The percent of Orleans Parish public school students eligible for TOPS scholarships (two- or four-year) has grown from 24.9% in 2005 to 37.2% for last year’s graduates – a gain of 12.3 percentage points.
  • During this same time, the state average grew only 5.2 percentage points, from 37.3% in 2005 to 42.5% in 2011. Continue reading

A Cause for Hope

As we struggle to build a better future for our youth, it is important that we take time to recognize the large and small successes that transpire in our schools every day.

Just this past week, two of our open-admissions high schools have given us reason to celebrate. Sci Academy held a Senior Signing Day to honor the accomplishments of its first graduating senior class. Over 94% of their 55 graduates were accepted to a 4-year college. And Lake Area New Tech Early College High School reported that 100% of their 125 graduates were accepted to either a 2 or 4-year college. Continue reading

The Session Begins

Governor Jindal has made K-12 education reform the cornerstone of his legislative agenda. He is proposing sweeping changes – including expanding vouchers, creating more charter schools, and changing teacher tenure – that could radically alter the landscape of Louisiana education.

This Wednesday the House Education Committee and this Thursday the Senate Education Committee will hear his three foundational bills.

  • Rep. Carter’s House Bill 976 and Sen. Appel’s SB 597, which expand school choice, including the scholarship program, pathways for charter schools, the providers who can offer courses to K-12 students, and a “parent trigger” for failing schools.
  • Rep. Carter’s House Bill 974 and Sen. Appel’s SB 603, which link teacher tenure to performance, make effectiveness the primary criterion for personnel decisions, and grant authority for hiring and placement of personnel to school superintendents.
  • Rep. Carter’s House Bill 933 and Sen. Appel’s SB 581, which outline a framework for a single coordinated early childhood education system with accountability for academic outcomes.

Comments on the Governor’s Education Package

Gov. Bobby Jindal Education Overhaul Legislation Introduced
The Times-Picayune – March 3, 2012
This article outlines the governor’s ambitious plans, provides details on the different bills to be debated, and presents arguments for and against his most controversial proposals to overhaul teacher tenure and expand vouchers. Continue reading

It’s Official – The DPS for New Orleans is 83.2

(higher than Educate Now!’s projection earlier this month)

The Louisiana Department of Education has released the official combined District Performance Score for New Orleans schools – 83.2.

#1 In Growth Since 2005
District Performance Scores = All students, all grades, all tests

Educate Now! compared District Performance Scores of the 4 largest districts in the state.

2005 2011 Gain
New Orleans 56.9 83.2 26.3
East Baton Rouge 73.1 86.2 13.1
Jefferson 74.3 88.2 13.9
Caddo (Shreveport) 82.3 88.5 6.2

While New Orleans still lags a bit, the large districts are all clustered within 5 points of each other. Our challenge will be to see if over the next 2-3 years we can surpass the “clustering” of these larger districts. Educate Now! is optimistic we will!


Historic Gains in Four-Year High School Graduation Rate

The Louisiana Department of Education recently released cohort graduation rates for all Louisiana schools. The cohort graduation rate looks at the 4-year graduation rate of students who started high school in 2007.

  • The state’s rate increased to 70.9%.
  • OPSB’s graduation rate of 93.5% is #1 in the state.
  • RSD New Orleans improved its cohort graduation rate by 15.3% and is #11 out of 70 districts for most improved.

Read the DOE press release
View cohort graduation rates for New Orleans high schools [xls]


End of Course Tests

What are End of Course Tests (EOCs)?

Louisiana is phasing out the Graduation Exit Exam (GEE) and replacing it with specific End of Course tests, or EOCs.

There are six EOC exams. Beginning with the freshman class of 2010-11, students must pass at least three of the tests to graduate:

  • English II or English III
  • Algebra I or Geometry
  • Biology or American History

Like the GEE, if a student does not pass the test on their first attempt, they have other opportunities to take the test.

Last year, the state tested students in Algebra I, English II, and Geometry. Tests for Biology, English III and American History will be phased in over the next two years.

The Louisiana Department of Education recently released the 2010-11 End of Course test results for Algebra I, English II and Geometry. Educate Now! analyzed student performance for New Orleans schools, focusing specifically on Algebra I and English II.

How did our students do?

Algebra I: New Orleans (all OPSB and RSD schools) outperformed many other school districts, posting its highest ranking relative to other school districts on any state administered test- ever! Continue reading