Post-Katrina New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) will turn 10 years old in November 2015. In November 2005, the Louisiana legislature signed into law Act 35, which gave the majority of Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) schools over to the state.
The first full school year for RSD was 2006-07.
It is now 2014-15.
Proponents of RSD are running out of time regarding how long they can blame their tepid results on pre-Katrina OPSB.
RSD students who are seniors in 2014-15 and who did not repeat grades began their time under state-run, Teach-for-America (TFA)-heavy, charter-increasing RSD as fourth graders.
Even 2014-15 RSD seniors whose families returned to New Orleans two years post-Katrina, in 2007, would have been under state-led RSD since fifth or sixth grade- for most of middle school and all of high school.
Let us now talk ACT.
In 2012-13, Louisiana began requiring all juniors to take the ACT.
Prior to this statewide requirement, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) did not publish ACT results for RSD. In 2013, however, RSD's first district ACT average was made public.
Catch this: The first publicized ACT results for RSD were for the Graduating Class of 2013, which means that the juniors first required to take the ACT in 2013 would not be included in the Graduating Class of 2013 result accessible here (and included on this LDOE data page).
Students in the Graduating Class of 2013 from New Orleans RSD averaged 16.3 on the ACT.
The first junior class required to take the ACT is the Graduating Class of 2014.
LDOE refuses to release the Graduating Class of 2014 ACT scores.
Go look at LDOE's primitive "Data Center." No download available for the Graduating Class of 2014.
Where o where is that oft-corporate-reform-rattled "transparency"?
Not on the LDOE website.
However, what White will offer at his "data center" is ACT information cryptic enough to not outright hang RSD -- info that is not much info at all, just frosting with no cake beneath it:
Percentages of test takers who scored at certain thresholds.
No school or district averages. No exact number of test takers. And no explanation as to whether the percentages are for the Graduating Class of 2014 or for all ACT test takers (including the Graduating Class of 2015).
These percentages can be found as part of school report card search engine.
Such nebulous reporting allows White to hide "less desirable" scores as he redirects attention toward percentages of students scoring at least 18 on the ACT.
Consider the RSD New Orleans district ACT "18 or higher" percentage: 32.
That means 68 percent of RSD test takers (Class of 2014? 2015?) did not score a minimum of 18 on the ACT, and these test takers have been educated by RSD since third or fourth grade.
How low the average score goes remains hidden.
I'm betting it's an embarrassing distance below the RSD average of 16.3 publicized in 2013.
Here's the percentages of 2014 ACT test takers scoring 18+ for each of the RSD high schools on the LDOE school report card search engine (whether juniors or seniors LDOE also does not disclose):
Algiers Technology Center: 19 percent
Cohen College Prep: 62 percent
Crescent Leadership Academy: 8 percent
Dr. MLK Charter School: 15 percent
John McDonogh High: under 5 percent
Joseph Clark Prep: 5 percent
KIPP Renaissance High: 52 percent
Lake Area New Tech: 33 percent
LB Landry/OP Walker: 53 percent
Miller-McCoy Academy: 8 percent
ReNew Accelerated High 1: under 5 percent
ReNew Accelerated High 2: 7 percent
Sci Academy: 52 percent
Sophie B. Wright: 45 percent
The Net Charter School: under 5 percent
For all of the schools above, under 5 percent of ACT test takers scored a composite of 27 or higher.
Let us now consider scores on the above RSD schools from the perspective of John White, who is hiding just how poor the ACT scores were for the RSD test takers reported (Class of 2014? 2015?):
Algiers Technology Center: How poorly did 81 percent score?
Cohen College Prep: How poorly did 38 percent score?
Crescent Leadership Academy: How poorly did 92 percent score?
Dr. MLK Charter School: How poorly did 85 percent score?
John McDonogh High: How poorly did over 95 percent score?
Joseph Clark Prep: How poorly did 95 percent score?
KIPP Renaissance High: How poorly did 48 percent score?
Lake Area New Tech: How poorly did 67 percent score?
LB Landry/OP Walker: How poorly did 47 percent score?
Miller-McCoy Academy: How poorly did 92 percent score?
ReNew Accelerated High 1: How poorly did over 95 percent score?
ReNew Accelerated High 2: How poorly did 93 percent score?
Sci Academy: How poorly did 55 percent score?
Sophie B. Wright: How poorly did over 95 percent score?
The Net Charter School: How poorly did over 95 percent score?
To further cloud the issue, LDOE offers this unanchored list of raw numbers of seniors scoring 18+ over two years (Class of 2012 to Class of 2014) and over one year (Class of 2013 to Class of 2014).
The problem with this list is that it is not anchored via percentages. It is possible for the raw counts alone to be projected as evidencing increases in students scoring 18+ when the percentages of students scoring an ACT composite of 18+ actually are decreasing from one graduating class to the next.
For example, 20 students scoring 18+ in 2013 and 30 scoring 18+ in 2014 might appear to be an "increase" of 10 students. However, if only 25 students took the test in 2013, that "20 students" is actually 20 out of 25, or 80 percent. Moreover, if the "30 students" in 2014 is actually 30 out of 60, that "30 students" is really 50 percent.
So, in the above example, 20 (80 percent) to 30 (50 percent) actually indicates a 30-percent decrease in students scoring 18+ on the ACT from 2013 to 2014 (80 percent minus 50 percent is 30 percent).
As it stands, LDOE's unanchored "comparison" is designed to mislead by "showing" that RSD "increased" its "number" of students scoring 18+ on the ACT, both from 2012 to 2014 and 2013 to 2014.
An optical illusion.
RSD seems always to be scrambling to project its success hologram.
Indeed, for all of the millions White and BESE (the state board) continue to dump a TFA infusion into RSD, only 72 percent of RSD teachers were rated as "effective" or higher in 2013-14. So, either RSD schools are inept at hiring "talent" eight years into RSD's post-Katrina existence or in an effort to justify its unimpressive school grades, RSD is trying to prove its "rigor" by demonstrating that over one in four of its own teachers isn't delivering on "student outcomes."
Neither is good for the national sale of RSD "success."
Corporate reform is known for its "fake it till you make it" deception. Corporate reformers like John White will do whatever is necessary to keep the lie of test-driven success alive, especially state-led test-driven success such as he tries to promote via RSD.
But too much time is passing. RSD student test results can no longer be dismissed as the residue of pre-Katrina education disappointment.
That RSD new car smell is gone, John White.
So is 2014.
Release to the public the Graduating Class of 2014 school and district ACT scores.
Originally posted 01-03-15 at deutsch29.wordpress.com
Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who's Who In the Implosion of American Public Education