Dr. James Arnold is the
former Superintendent for Pelham City Schools, located in Southwest
Click here to check out his blog.
Governor Deal’s suggestion that Georgia “look at” a recovery school district modeled after the one in New Orleans has raised more than a few eyebrows in our state. Louisiana, where Advanced Placement exam results for 2013 are ahead of only Mississippi, is known more for LSU football and Duck Dynasty than public education.. Higher National Assessment of Educational Progress scores in 2013 still leave the state at the bottom of the national scorecard, and the US Chamber of Commerce report in 2014 graded the state educational system with an A for choice but a D or F in academic achievement, international competitiveness and workforce preparation. Less than 20% of Louisiana students met Programme for International Student Assessment requirements for reading and math standards, and recent gains in LEAP (Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) and iLEAP (integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) state tests were due to Louisiana Department of Education manipulation of cut scores and not actual academic achievement. The number of correct answers on those tests required for a level of “basic” proficiency was reduced in 3 of 4 categories in LEAP testing. The LDOE said the grading scale was “equated.” This means the grading scale was adjusted to make it appear that student performance held steady with Common Core aligned tests instead of the dramatic reduction that would have shown up without “equating.” The vast majority of charters in LA, except for those with a selective admission process, are rated D or F by their own state. The New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) that Nathan suggested we emulate was rated as one of the lowest performing districts in the state.
On Wednesday, Governor Deal met with Governor Jindal of Louisiana.
From the AJC : Deal said legislators should consider a system, known in Louisiana as a Recovery School District, that gives the state more powers to take over struggling schools and convert them to charters.
Under the Louisiana system, the state can intervene in schools deemed “academically unacceptable” for four consecutive years. Those that receive charters receive state funding without being tied to requirements of local school boards. Those that fail to improve or meet standards would lose their charter.
Since its inception, the New Orleans model has been met with great criticism and controversy.
Though proponents of the Recovery model have pointed to greater choice for parents and gains in test scores, opponents point out that communities have been ripped apart and data has been manipulated to push a special interest agenda.
No doubt Deal is taking a big gamble on an issue that is sure to continue to erode his support among many educators and pro-public education supporters.
Note: scroll to the bottom of the post for related resources.
Concerns raised in a National Education Policy Center Report:
Hurricane Katrina Led to Large-Scale Population Changes
First, the overall population of New Orleans has changed substantially since Katrina, thereby changing the student population as well. Census data show that not only has the city become smaller since 2000, the disproportionate loss of black families and children has shifted the overall demographics of the city.11 People who did not own homes or lived with friends and relatives were less likely to return to New Orleans after Katrina. 12 These shifts are important for understanding whether the rising achievement rates in New Orleans are due to the educational reforms or to a broader shift in the student population.
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