New Orleans Schools Continue Climb, Even as Letter Grades Point Out Work to be Done

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Thursday, October 6, 2011

School performance scores in New Orleans continued their steady climb this year, even as Louisiana's new letter grade system kicked in for the first time and slapped a majority of the city's schools with a D or worse, underscoring how far New Orleans will still need to go before it achieves a top-rated public education system. 

Data released by the state Wednesday showed that both school districts operating in New Orleans -- the state-run Recovery School District and the local Orleans Parish School Board -- achieved some of the fastest rates of growth in the state, measured by a combination of test scores, attendance and dropout rates.

The performance score assigned to the RSD as a whole in New Orleans rose 8.6 points or 14 percent. The OPSB, a locally elected body that still oversees more than a quarter of the city's students, climbed 7.7 points, or 7 percent. By comparison, Louisiana as a whole grew 2.2 points, or about 2 percent.

The latest scores extend what proponents of the city's turn toward independently managed charter schools see as an historic upswing, one that could finally break the cycle of poverty afflicting many of the city's minority residents half a century after desegregation was supposed to begin erasing the disparity.

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