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Hear the Echoes #12 - Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hear the Echoes #12



Progress at ANY Cost!


  Recovery School District schools in New Orleans were reported to be making real progress.  The report was presented in the Baton Rouge Business Report.  It contained numerous charts and graphs to illustrate selected data.

  Another report, last week from the non-profit New Orleans Research on Reforms Institute, opened this way:

  "Whether assessing the 2010-11 status of the RSD schools using the current achievement performance labels or applying the new letter grade system that will be implemented this fall, it is clear that the SPS (school performance scores) achievement status for the vast majority of the RSD schools is at best pathetic.”

  The Research on Reforms study, led by Dr. Charles Hatfield, reports that there were approximately 74 RSD schools in Orleans that received MFP funding for the 2010-11 school year.  Of these schools about 50 (68%) had 2010 baseline SPSs reported:  30 charter and 20 direct run schools.  Over 74% of the RSD schools are labeled either as failing (AUS) or in danger of failing (AW).

  The 50 RSD schools that do have baseline schools enrolled 21,353 students in 2010-11.  When applying the state’s new letter grade standards to these student’s grades the Research on Reforms report concluded 91% of students would be attending schools labeled as failing or poor performing.

  Even in the RSD Charter schools, with 12,216 enrolled students, 86% attend schools labeled with D or F letter grades.

  Thirty-three of the 50 schools analyzed have operated for 4+ years in the RSD. 

  The report concludes that the RSD "has only managed to successfully impact a handful of charter schools after 5 years of operation.

  The BR Business Report article contains a chart that illustrates a 35.29% rate of RSD school labeled AUS (18 of 51).  Analysis of the DOE chart ranking all SPSs reveals that there are three additional RSD schools in AUS that are alternative schools, and that there are 55 RSD schools listed with below 60 SPSs. 

  An earlier report, last year, by the Research on Reforms groups found that there were 21 RSD schools in New Orleans that had been operating for at least three years and still had no SPS score.

  The BR Business Report article presented data that wrapped the schools operated by the Orleans Parish School Board together with the RSD operated schools so as to produce an 18.5% increase to 75.4 in composite SPS.

  This is not the first time the DOE has used the composite scores to mask the poor RSD performing record.

  Only two RSD schools can be found to boast of SPSs above 100.  Both are KIPP elementary level schools.  The two are KIPP Central City Primary with 120.6, and KIPP Central City Academy with 106.5.

  By contrast Orleans Parish School Board-operated schools were solidly higher.  Ben Franklin Charter High scored 169.8, Lusher Senior High 146.2, Lake Forest Elementary 140.4, Mary Bethune Elementary 123.7, Ben Franklin Elementary for Math & Science 114.4, Robert Russa-Moton 114.1, and Edward Haynes 112.1.  Those eight schools contributed significantly to the composite score.

  There emerges another strange facet of the two highest performing KIPP schools.  Consulting the DOE Principal’s Report Card on these schools reveals that in KIPP Central City Primary’s report was a statement that "Your school has shared test units with another school because it did not have the required test units for receiving a SPS.”  It shared its SPS with KIPP Central City Academy but the latter school scored but 91.1 and its enrollment of 172 students (with 14 IDEA students) was nearly twice the size of the higher scoring Primary’s enrollment in 2008.  It was but 92 regular and 1 IDEA student.

  The Western Michigan report also took note that KIPP charter middle schools enroll a significantly higher proportion of African-American students than the local school districts they draw from, but that 40% of the black males they enroll leave between grades 6 and 8.

  The study revealed that, on average, KIPP schools receive $18,500 per pupil, about $6,500 more per student than the average for other schools in the same districts.  About $5,800 of that per pupil revenue comes from private donations and grants.

  In spite of spending between $1,200 and $1,600 per student for extended day/week and every other Saturday classes in these two New Orleans KIPP schools they are significantly behind performance scores of schools that operate on much less seat time, and fewer dollars.

  While the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, in December, renewed charters on a dozen New Orleans RSD schools, it is unclear how Supt. Pastorek hopes to sustain funding levels needed to support such strategies.

  Supt. Pastorek has testified before legislative committees that he could turnaround low performing schools in three years, yet the dozen with newly renewed charters all failed to make their achievement goals; and only one met its financial reporting goals.

  Perhaps when the legislature cuts through the smoke screen that covers the reality of the RSD performance, it will help resolve the problem.


Don Whittinghill

LSBA Consultant

April 8, 2011


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