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Louisiana School Board Association

News & Announcements

LSBA Report - Tuesday, April 26, 2011





April 25, 2011

Louisiana School Boards Association

7912 Summa Avenue

Baton Rouge, LA 70809



BATON ROUGE —A study of Louisiana’s Recovery District schools in New Orleans reveals that of the 21,352 students enrolled, 91 percent are attending schools labeled "D”, on academic watch, or "F” academically unacceptable.


          The report was done by the non-profit Research on Reforms Institute of New Orleans.  The institute periodically examines official state records to determine whether the poor, disadvantaged, public school students of the city are receiving the quality education promised as justification for the Louisiana Department of Education to dismantle the Orleans Parish School System.


          Mindful that Superintendent Paul Pastorek regularly criticizes the slow pace of improvement in Louisiana’s public schools, the performance of his RSD schools should be of keen interest to the Louisiana legislature.


          Using the current performance labels set by the Louisiana Department of Education, 74 percent of the 50 schools are currently labeled as on academic watch or academically unsatisfactory under the new letter grade system to take effect in the 2010-11 school year 92 percent of those schools will be labeled with a D or an F.


          The report reveals that whether assessing the 2010-11 status of the RSD schools using the performance labels applied in September 2010, or applying the new letter grade system to the 2010 baseline SPS, it is clear that with the exception of about four schools, the overall SPS achievement status of the RSD schools is at best pathetic.  Operating for four or more years, 33 of the 50 schools can be seen to be either failing of in danger offailing.


                "After 4+ years of operating and being inundated with all the public relations hype about the tremendous gains that have been made, the vast majority of RSD schools can be labeled as either failing or as low performing after 5-years. Given this state of affairs, how can anyone logically justify the continued existence of this entity? Yet, BESE in its infinite wisdom, recently approved Superintendent (Paul) Pastorek’s recommended criteria for the transfer of schools  from the RSD, thus guaranteeing the continued survival of an inept but politically powerful governing authority,” the author of the report, Dr. Charles Hatfield concluded.


          A recent analysis for the Louisiana School Boards Association revealed that the two RSD schools that the ROF study cites as being successful may not be what they seem.  KIPP Central City Primary was reported with a 120 school performance score but a review of its Prinicpal’s Report Card on the DOE web site revealed it did not test a sufficient number of units to rate an SPS on its own.  It was then combined with the lower performing KIPP Believe.


          Frequently claims of improvement, such as that contained in the Stanford University CREDO report on national charter school performance, are based upon the student achievement data of schools operated by the RSD and combined with those of students in schools operated by the Orleans Parish School Board.  Doing so gives RSD advocates a better overall score for New Orleans students because OPSB operating schools are largely very high performing.


          Such a combined score for Orleans parish school performance was claimed by the DOE to show a 18.5 percent gain.  However, that performance masks the fact that the OPSB performance score averaged 110.3 the third highest in the state while the RSD in New Orleans averaged 60.6.  OPSB gain from the 2009 score was 6 percent and the RSD gain was 6.2 percent, while St. Bernard gained 6.1 percent.


          When one considers that the RSD per pupil spending , as reported by the Tulane University Cowen Institute, was $14,254 in 2010-2011, and the average per pupil spending for the state was $9,787 the lagging performance of the RSD reveals a starkly disappointing return on investment. 


          Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, last week, claimed that the Jindal administration increased the K-12 budget from $3.12 billion in FY 08 to $3.3 billion in FY11.  That is a deceiving comment that was widely circulated by the media..  The U.S. Department of Education Inspector General audited the DOE handling of the ARRA Stimulus grants and his report said "The Governor’s Office planned to use $100 million of the $388 million in the SFSF ESF allocation to restore the level of State support for elementary and secondary education in FY2010 to FY 2008 levels.”


          The Commissioner also didn’t include the salient fact that $42 million of the increase was due to steadily increasing enrollment in Louisiana’s public schools.  Nor did he admit that the administration is forcing local districts to pay for private and parochial school students transportation that was formerly paid for by the state.


          School boards and other stakeholders all across Louisiana are expecting legislators to open their eyes to these realities.  The administration demonstrates that it considers as adequate a level of funding for its RSD schools is 48 percent higher than the state average, but a mere 2.75 percent growth factor in the MFP to cope with inflationary costs is not affordable.




Prepared for Release

Coalition for Louisiana Public Education

2 p.m. Monday, April 25

State Capitol

CONTACT:  Nolton Senegal, Sr., Executive Director, LSBA 225-769-6108