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Listen Up the Senate Hears the RSD - Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Listen UP!

The RSD Comes to a Serious Evaluation

            The Louisiana Senate Education Committee, today,  began a series of hearings on the State Recover School District with a sometimes contentious cross examination of State Superintendent Paul Pastorek and RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas.

            Members, early in the hearing, signified impatience with the PowerPoint presentation of Pastorek, and began interruption in favor of open discussion.

            The presentation continued the usual Pastorek technique of presenting general conclusions about failure and accomplishment. 

            At one point, early in his presentation, Pastorek replied to questions about  RSD charters that fail to meet goals.  "We just closed one last week,Ē he said referring to Board of Elementary and Secondary Education action.  But, he added, the problem with traditional schools is you canít close them.

            What he did not mention is that BESE, last week, extended the charters for about a dozen schools that state documents disclosed had failed to meet financial reporting requirements of their charters; and that only one had met its academic improvement goals.  All of those charters are nearing the end of their five year grant period.

            Later in his dialogue, Pastorek admitted that some local districts are closing schools. 

            Pastorek reported that only six districts contain 40% of all schools currently boasting School Performance Scores that are on the academic watch list, and that 16 districts contain 75% of all schools on that list.  He also didnít mention that the RSD contains a large portion of those failing schools.

            Yet he continues to charge that progress is too slow and that there are barriers to change.  He charges that teacher tenure and collective bargaining are root causes that bar accelerated progress. 

            He proclaimed that the RSD is the education lifeline for children trapped in low performing schools.

            The facts are that the Department of Educationís own 2009 District Subgroup Assessment Index shows that the State average for all students is 88.1 while the RSD average was 58.2.  Only St. Helena, with 57.4% ranked lower.

            The Baseline Growth School Performance Score listing showed that 19 RSD schools of the lowest 25 performing schools are at the very bottom of the rank ordering list with the best of the 19 scoring 52.5.  The very best RSD schools in that list are the KIPP Central City Primary with a score of 114.6, The KIPP Believe College Prep at 97.2, The KIPP Martin Behrman Elementary School at 94.8 ,The KIPP McDonogh 15 School for the Creative Arts at 88.8 followed by New Orleans Charter Science and Math Education Academy with an 81.6.  In fact, after five years of RSD operation, only 30 RSD schools achieved a 60 SPS or above.

            The best RSD Baseline score among the lowest 17 of all schools is 48.8


 

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