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The Recovery School District (RSD) Optical Illusion

October 29, 2013

The charter-promoting organization, New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) wants its charters to prosper. Its website proudly advertises a hefty $25 million grant from the Arnold Foundation– as in John Arnold, former Enron trader who made off with $4 million while most employees lost their pensions and who later spun gold in hedge funds to the tune of $3 billion.

In order to sell the charter success image, NSNO offers the public “proof” of “New Orleans Schools Success” in the form of these two graphs:

“Success” in the reformer world is all too often about image and not truth.  As such, these graphs promote a lie.  The bolded information below explains the deception.

It is the Recovery School District (RSD) that is state-run, not Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). OPSB retained the majority of its handful of schools after the post-Katrina state takeover; the criteria for state takeover was any school scoring below the pre-Katrina state average of 87.4 for a school performance score. (For more RSD history, read this post and this post.)

Post-Katrina OPSB has always scored well.  Some OPSB “charters” are selective admission charters. This “cream” distinction is often not disclosed and makes for unfair declarations of “New Orleans charter success.”

In his capricious, ever-changing calculation of school performance scores and letter grades, so-called Superintendent John White insists upon combining OPSB and RSD scores in order to form an “average.” The reason? OPSB scores make RSD look better. Note that for 2013, OPSB alone has a “A.” However, when combined with RSD, RSD’s 71.9 C “rises” to an 83.4 C.

Do not try to compare 2013 to 2012 scores; the scales and calculations are completely different. The 2013 scores are biased towards raising RSD’s “D” schools to “C” schools. (School performance score criteria is ever-changing and fraught with problems, which makes worthless any comparison of Louisiana school performance scores across years.)

RSD has a number of “D” rated schools that were raised to “C” as nothing more than an artifact of John White and the state board, BESE, changing the school performance score scale and calculation.

Only a limited number of RSD schools are graded from one year to the next. Of the 37 RSD schools that were given “A – F” letter grades in both 2012 and 2013, 15 RSD schools that would have had a “D” under the 2013 SPS calculation received a “C” under the “new” 2013 calculation. Thus, the 2013 scores are inflated.

So, in considering the two NSNO graphs above, realize that OPSB and RSD scores are combined, thus disguising the less-than-stellar “performance” of RSD; that the “comparison” between 2012 and 2013 scores cannot be made since the scales and calculations are different; that the number of schools with scores from one year to the next is low (only 37 out of 63 RSD schools have both 2012 and 2013 school performance scores and letter grades), and that 2013 scores are biased towards raising RSD’s “D” schools to “C.”

Once again, the state-run RSD proves to be no miracle.

Spin, yes. Hype, yes.

Miracle, no.

6 Comments
  1. dee ploma permalink

    It is this same coward, John Arnold, from Enron, who was a member of RI’s group of corporates who would not identify themselves known as Engage-RI and they did everything in their power to help the Treasurer, Gina Raimondo eliminate the COLAS of retired & working teachers-state workers, too and change the pension plan with a new law in place with John Arnold’s millions as well as Bloomberg’s $$ and that of the Wall Street and hedgefund investors..They all , like Arnold, contributed to this self serving woman who wants to be the next RI governor and like Arnold believes in charters…Why wouldn’t she when her husband Andy Moffit was a TFA teacher for a couple of years in Houston, Texas and now is co-founder the Global Education Practice in 2005, Andy has worked with multiple large urban districts, state education departments and charter management organizations All you have to do for RI is to connect the dots. Raimondo, Moffet, Cory Booker ( Moffit’s college roommate) are all connected to the plutocratic cabal set on privatizing education. This is all to open the market for Wall Street to get its thieving hands on the last big bundle of money left. And now we have Enron connection to add to the connect the dots in RI to an arrogant woman who tried to fool the RI taxpayers when she told everyone her husband was a school teacher, as if he were sharing the pain along with everyone else. What a phony! How many Democratic candidates did RI-Can put up? I think they have been awarded legislative grants, too. They are on the dole just like Walmart.

  2. Reblogged this on Crazy Crawfish's Blog and commented:
    More on the absurdity that is the New Orleans miracle. I have another take of my own I’m working on, but this is a great additional analytical piece on the spin and subterfuge being paraded about as success. New Orleans does like its parades to be sure, but this one is nothing to celebrate.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. New Orleans: The Recovery School District (RSD) Optical Illusion | The Education Report - your source for education news, updated all day
  2. Schneider Debunks the “New Orleans Miracle,” Again | Diane Ravitch's blog
  3. empathyeducates – On the “Success” of a 100% Charter Recovery School District
  4. Louisiana Charters Returned to District Control | LWVeducation

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