The high school landscape in New Orleans is very different now than it was pre-Katrina, but it is still possible to make valid comparisons between 2005 and 2010 to determine how education reform is affecting our high school students.
There are critics who claim that New Orleans high school students are no better off, and may be even worse off, than they were before Katrina. This is not correct.
Without a doubt:
1. High Schools Are Better
In 2005, 67% of high school students (grades 9-12) attended a failing high school. In 2010, this percentage dropped to 36%* – a huge improvement!
2. More Students Are Performing Basic or Above:
In 2005, only 40% of students scored Basic or above on the English section of the Graduation Exit Exam (GEE), compared to 52% this year. Math gains are even more impressive, with a 21 point gain: 39% in 2005 to 60% in 2010.
3. Senior Graduation Rates Are Up:
In 2005, only 79% of seniors graduated. This year, 90% of seniors graduated – an 11 point jump.
Our high schools are far from perfect, but the improvements in school and student performance provide a basis for optimism.
* This is an estimate based on 2010 test scores. See below for more details.
Student performance continues to rise!
The recently released 2010 Test Scores are great news for New Orleans. Across the city, student achievement continues to improve.
- For the third year in a row, more students passed the high-stakes LEAP tests.
- Significantly more students met the state proficiency goal of Basic or above.
- The Recovery School District (RSD) is #1 in the state in increasing the percentage of students scoring Basic or above. The Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) is tied for 4th highest.
- In cumulative gains (over three years), the RSD is again #1, and OPSB tied with one other district for 3rd highest gains.
Education was an issue in the recent Mayoral and City Council elections, especially school governance and school performance. These issues were debated, discussed, and polled. Finally, the candidates were asked their positions. So, now that we have a new mayor and five of the seven city council seats have been decided, where are we?
The majority of voters:
- Believe the state made the right decision in taking over the schools (Cowen);
- Strongly support choice (CABL, Cowen);
- Strongly support charters (CABL, Cowen, Democracy Corps);
- Do not want schools returned to the Orleans Parish School Board (CABL, Cowen);
- Do not want mayoral control of schools (Cowen); and
- Would like return of local control eventually (Democracy Corps). Continue reading
The Big Picture: Good News Overall
The state has just released the 2009 School Performance Scores, and the news is good overall. Students in New Orleans are doing better than they were pre-Katrina, and New Orleans is one of the 5 most-improved areas in the state.
In 2005, just before Katrina, only 37% of Orleans Parish schools were considered Academically Acceptable with one star or higher. Today that number is 58% – an increase of 21 percentage points.
New Orleans is one of the most improved areas in the state, and our rate of progress is significantly higher than the state average. The District Performance Score for New Orleans Schools went from 56.9 in 2005 to 70.6 in 2009, an increase of 13.7 points. The state average only went up 3.6 points during this time.
Great News: Performance Soars!
The recently released 2009 Test Scores are great news for New Orleans. Across the city, student achievement improved dramatically.
These gains are truly significant and show the reforms underway are working.
- New Orleans improved more than the state across all grades and subjects.
- New Orleans showed real growth in the percentage of students passing the promotional high-stakes LEAP and GEE tests.
- Significantly more students met the state proficiency goal of Basic or Above.
This edition of Leslie’s Notebook will focus on the high stakes tests – 4th and 8th grade English and Math LEAP tests, along with the Graduation Exit Exam – to highlight the tremendous improvement both this year and since the state took over the schools in 2006.
These results include all schools under the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District, both traditional and charter.