Fact: Since the state takeover, student improvement has more than doubled!
Educate Now! compared the percent of students Basic or above in math and English on the 4th and 8th grade LEAP and the 10th grade GEE tests for 2000, 2005 and 2010.* (For other grades the state changed the tests, so we can’t compare pre- and post-storm numbers.)
- From 2000 to 2005, the percent of students scoring Basic or above increased from 30% to 37%, a gain of 7 points.
- From 2005 to 2010, the percent of students scoring Basic or above increased from 37% to 53%, a gain of 16 points! Continue reading
Five years ago yesterday, the levees broke. Hurricane Katrina flooded roughly 80% of this city, causing nearly $100 billion in damage. The storm forced us to rebuild our homes, workplaces, and many of our institutions – including our failing public education system.
But from the flood waters, the most market-driven public school system in the country has emerged. Education reformers across America should take notice: The model is working.
Citywide, the number of fourth-grade students who pass the state’s standardized tests has jumped by almost a third – to 65% in 2010 from 49% in 2007. The passage rate among eighth-graders during the same period has improved at a similar clip, to 58% from 44%.
After Hurricane Katrina, state officials faced a choice: Take control of the schools in New Orleans or leave them in the care of the city’s notoriously troubled School Board. A takeover was risky. New Orleans Public Schools were among the worst in the nation. Most New Orleans legislators opposed state action. More daunting, any reasonable analysis would have put the state’s chance of success extremely low and of political embarrassment correspondingly high. Nowhere else in the nation had a state department of education ever assumed direct responsibility for operating local schools.
Yet state leaders, led by Gov. Kathleen Blanco and then-Superintendent Cecil Picard, had the courage to take the gamble. With legislative blessing, they moved decisively to expand the state-run Recovery School District – initially created to handle just a handful of failing schools – to include all but 16 schools in the city.
Five years later, it’s clear that gamble has paid off in ways unimaginable even to the most ardent supporters of the takeover. Continue reading
Yesterday, the Department of Education announced the winners of the highly competitive Investing in Innovation, or i3, grants. There were 49 winners from a pool of 1698 applicants nationwide. New Orleans own New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) is a winner! And they will receive over $28 million to support school turnarounds in New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville.
The selection of NSNO out of thousands of applicants is a validation of New Orleans education reforms since Katrina. The federal government looked closely at the success we are having and the improvement in student achievement, and decided to invest significant funds to expand our work in other parts of the country.
Pre-Katrina, New Orleans had one of the worst dropout rates in Louisiana, and Louisiana had one of the worst dropout rates in the nation.
Educate Now! was curious to know how New Orleans is doing today. We hadn’t seen any dropout data for New Orleans since Katrina, so we contacted the Louisiana Department of Education and got the 2008-09 dropout numbers for every school in Orleans parish. The 2008-09 data is the most recent year available because dropout reporting lags a year. (The 2009-10 data will be released next spring.)
The Good News: We are better in 2008-09 than we were in 2004-05.
The Bad News: We are still above the state average and have a lot of room for improvement.
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.