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If the state takeover of New Orleans schools worked, ACT scores below 16 would not be embarrassing

In 2003, the Louisiana legislature created a Recovery School District state (RSD) that allowed the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to take over schools with a School Performance Score (SPS) of 60 or less.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, and in November 2005, the Louisiana Legislature used such destruction to take over even more schools by raising the scores of failed schools to an SPS below the current average of 87.4. (For more information on RSD history, see this publication.)

Note that a key component in calculating SPS is the standardized test score. At the high school level, one of those scores is the ACT, which has been administered to all juniors beginning in the 2012-13 school year. Additionally, 100 percent of the 2013 Louisiana class took the ACT.

An overarching goal of the state takeover of Louisiana schools was for the state to take over most of New Orleans' public schools, which it did in 2005, and to convert all of those previously local board-run schools into charter schools, which it did in May 2014.

Louisiana's RSD New Orleans (RSD-NO) was an experiment, one that was supposed to "reverse" failing schools and turn the conversion of the RSD charter into a modern miracle.

By 2017, twelve years after Katrina, it is clear that the experiment has failed. There is no incredible miracle based on test scores, and nowhere is that failure more obvious than in the average ACT composite scores for RSD-NO overall and its individual high schools.

The remainder of this publication provides a detailed examination of the average ACT composite scores for RSD-NO, where the miracle-producing engine has stopped.

On August 9, 2017, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released the Average ACT Composite Scores for the Class of 2017 by school and school district.

What is not included among the published school and district scores is an average Class of 2017 ACT Composite Score for New Orleans high schools that were taken over by the state after Katrina and comprised of the Recovery School District , New Orleans (RSD-NO).

In fact, the 2016 LDOE class ACT average composite score file also does not include a separate score for RSD-NO high schools.

In May 2016, the Louisiana legislature voted to begin returning RSD-NO schools to the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), a decision that provided a convenient reason for Louisiana State Superintendent John White , will stop reporting the ACT annual average composite scores for RSD-NO as a separate score.

As of the Class of 2012, the state – reported the average ACT composite score for RSD high schools – has NOT been an embarrassment, making the state takeover possibly a hard sell for people like White.

White was never able to promote that RSD-NO high schools have a composite ACT average that even reached a low of 17.0.

In fact, the best ACT composite RSD-NO score occurred several years ago, in 2012, when RSD-NO reached 16.8.


Then, according to LDOE's own reports, it dropped to 16.3 in 2013. (See the voice of Louisiana reform Leslie Jacobs downplaying the 2013 ACT drop to 16 , 3 in this New Orleans Miracle sales pitch).

And it rose modestly in 2014, to 16.4. That year, White did not release Louisiana's ACT composite scores at all. I released them in January 2015, with the help of someone in higher education who got tired of waiting for White. Within days of my release, which had RSD-NO high schools at 15.7 for a composite median class of 2014, White released his 16.4.

Comparing your numbers to what I got begs for an audit. But for now, let's go to White's 16.4, which is nothing to show, and which certainly seems to be a key reason why White did not release the scores in a timely manner in the first place.

In 2015, LDOE reported that the mean composite ACT of RSD-NO was 16.6. And before it was time to release the Class of 2016 ACT scores, the Louisiana legislature decided to begin sending RSD-NO schools back to OPSB. Of course, since those RSD-NO schools are now charter schools, their “return” to OPSB is not the same as if the schools were traditional public schools, as Danielle Dreilinger reported in May 2016 at

The Louisiana Legislature is poised to close a chapter in the history of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Both the Senate and the House have voted to reverse the 2005 state takeover of most of the city's public schools. …

But the reunified school system will not be the same as in the old days. In the past decade, the Recovery system has become a realm of independent charter schools, mini-kingdoms run by unelected, nonprofit boards of directors. Those boards will continue to reign after the transition, making their own decisions but to meet the benchmarks of the Orleans Parish School Board. Currently, they report to the recovery district, which is a unit of the state Department of Education, and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Although the OPSB will oversee the RSD-NO schools that are now returning with a market-driven, "portfolio" style reform that adds a layer of bureaucracy that complicates supervision, such a return is a true gift to John White.

White will be better able to hide the RSD-NO ACT score shame by averaging RSD-NO high schools with OPSB high schools and will never, ever have to report a separate average ACT composite score at those RSD-NO high schools.

From 2012 to 2015, the LDOE reported the average ACT scores for OPSB and RSD-NO separately, but also reported them combined, helping to divert attention from how low the RSD was – No high school ACT composite score was.

And the average RSD-NO compounds, which were themselves low (from 16.3 to 16.8 over the four-year period from 2012 to 2015) actually helped to hide the fact that several RSD-NO high schools continued to have compound ACTs. scores below 16, and that many RSD-NO School ACT compounds from year to year continue to be erratic:

RSD-NO School and ACT compounds for classes of 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012:

  • Lake area: 16.4, 17.1, 16.8 , 16.2, 16.2, 17.2
  • The NET: 14.3, 14.6, 14, 13, 12.5, N / A
  • Crescent: 14.2, 14.1, 14.3, 14.4, ~, N / A
  • New WB: 14, 14.5, 13.9 , ~, 12.7, ~
  • Sci Acad: 18. 4, 17.8, 19.7, 18.2, 18.8, 20
  • GW Carvr: 16.7, 17.9, N / A, N / A, N / A, N / A
  • Cohen CPrp: 18, 17.8, 17, 8, 18.7, N / A, N / A
  • Landr Walk: 16.3, 16, 15.7, 17.8, 17.7, 20.1
  • Algiers Tech: 15.6, 15.9, 16.6, 14.9, 15.5, 17.1
  • SophieWright: 18.1, 17.9 , 18.8, 17.1, 18.5, 17.8
  • KIPP Renais: 18.3, 19.4, 18.5, 17.9, N / A , N / A
  • JosephClark: 15.9, 15.9, 15.4, 14.2, 14.9, 15.4
  • Dr. MLK: 16.8, 17.5, 17.7, 15.3, 15.5, 15.9

If in fact the state takeover of schools secondary RSD-DID NOT make a substantial difference. al in test results (the preferred measure of success cited by corporate reform), then that difference could be said to manifest itself in some kind of upward trend consisting of RSD-NO ACT scores over the years for most high schools RSD-NO.

Such evidence simply does not exist. If it did, you'd better believe that John White would be broadcasting it.

Instead, you are allowed to combine RSD-NO and OPSB high schools to produce a more acceptable average for the ACT composite public. However, even this will age because high school RSD-NO low ACT compounds are now producing what appears to be a stagnant RSD-NO-OPSB combination compound that cannot break through a modest average compound of 19.0.

Combined ACT OPSB and RSD-NO combined scores for the years 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012:

  • OPSB with RSD NO: 18.9, 18.9, 18.8, 18.4, 18.2, 18.8

The following are the ACT composite scores for OPSB without RSD-NO, for 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 (LDOE did not report separate OPSB from RSD-NO in 2016 and 2017):

  • OPSB without RSD-NO: 21, 20.5, 19.7, 19.5

In contrast to erratic R and low SD-NO scores, OPSB high schools not run by the state showed a steady upward trend in average ACT composite scores.

It could be argued that many OPSB schools are screened schools that do not fit the state definition of "fail" in the first place and therefore should not be compared to RSD-NO state schools.

However, state rotation is not reduced, so

The objective of the state takeover is to "turn around" the failing schools, and after more than Within a decade, such a change should be clearly evident in the state RSD-NO Scores law. But it is not, far from it.

The state takeover of RSD-NO high schools failed to "roll back" those schools. Indeed, such failure is deeply underscored by the fact that RSD-NO "success" cannot be marketed without hiding RSD-NO ACT scores behind that combined average of OPSB-RSD-NO ACT scores.

And even combined, RSD-NO-OPSB continues to unsuccessfully reach a composite average ACT of 19.0.

It is not exactly the substance of miracles.

Originally posted 08/12/17 at

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