August 6, 2014
Public education in New Orleans experienced numerous successes in the 2013-14 school year, according to the State of Public Education in New Orleans, an annual report released today by the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University.
Those successes include the joint commitment by the Orleans Parish School Board and the Recovery School District to address the needs of the city’s most vulnerable students.
The report also notes that while consolidation of public schools under OPSB governance appears unlikely over the short term, the Cooperate Endeavor Agreement forged between the two bodies represents a breakthrough for a relationship that has been marked by a history of tension.
The report, the eighth published by the Cowen Institute since 2007, details and compiles changes in governance, school finances, school choice and student achievement, as well as identifies successes and challenges for the future.
“The Cowen Institute's State of Public Education in New Orleans report provides an honest and unbiased documentation of the last year,” state Superintendent of Education John White said. “It equips leaders to make well-informed decisions for public schools and the students they serve.”
Highlights include the following:
• Public schools in New Orleans have made significant academic gains in recent years, but the implementation of Common Core and a new focus on "mastery" places pressure on schools to improve student performance. Despite increases in the percentage of students performing at "basic" and above in 2013-14, only 19 percent scored at "mastery" and above on LEAP and iLEAP, compared to 24 percent statewide.
• Political divisions at the local and state levels have had a negative impact on public education in New Orleans. Locally, the search for a permanent superintendent has stalled for the second year. Statewide, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s insistence on dictating Common Core policy has stymied the progress schools have made transitioning to the more rigorous standards.
“Educators in New Orleans can be proud of the gains they have made in the classroom,” John Ayers, executive director of the Cowen Institute, said. “However, more work is needed to ensure continued academic growth and equal opportunities for all students.”
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