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John White Refuses to Release La.’s Class of 2014 ACT Scores

January 3, 2015

Post-Katrina New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) will turn ten 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 repeated no 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 on 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.


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

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  1. Jenny permalink

    An 18 on the ACT will not get you anywhere. How does White explain this to be career and college ready, or globally competitive, or 21st century ready (or his other buzzwords)? Too bad our local media doesn’t publish the truth on the charter failures. Nor do our representatives in the house and senate, especially Carter and Appel. Very sad indeed for the children. I guess we need more “clarity” on the issues again.

    • An 18 on the ACT could get conditional admission for La Tech’s dual enrollment:

      Click to access eligibility.pdf

      • ulyankee permalink

        Dual Enrollment is not the same as admission to a state four-year university, however. Students admitted in dual enrollment are supposed to be admissible to the college or university where they take those classes but it doesn’t equate admission to the university as a new freshman. The main benefit of dual enrollment for students who do not meet the ACT cut scores used to be the ability to take dev ed English or math to gain admission. The four-year universities are no longer allowed to offer dev ed per GRAD Act but the community colleges still can.

      • ulyankee permalink

        In the fall 2014, four-year state universities were no longer allowed to admit students needing developmental work in math and English, defined as a 19 ACT math and 18 ACT English. If it weren’t for the Regents’ DevEd Pilot program, this would have been absolutely devastating to the regional universities. Most high school graduates in our state do NOT meet these cut scores, especially African American students. The drop in regional university enrollment was mitigated by the DevEd Pilot which allowed institutions to conditionally admit students within two points of the cut score on one or the other… but the Pilot is not guaranteed for Fall 15. I’m an admissions officer at one of the regionals and I always cringe when John White says that an 18 composite qualifies a student for college admission because it doesn’t. The only time I look at a composite score in real life for admission purposes is if a student didn’t meet core (mostly home schoolers or GED recipients) and then it has to be a 23. Students can qualify for TOPS now and not be eligible for college admission in our state. Not just theoretically either… I have denied admission to TOPS eligible students.

  2. liznola716 permalink

    Mercedes: what room if any is there in corruption of these scores? Ex: if a particular charter school decides to give the ACT to its top 5 students only, how do we know that? how do we confirm the veracity of the data?

    • We don’t know if there are no serious RSD school audits, Liz. And LDOE continues to selectively release RSD student-level data despite court order.

      • ulyankee permalink

        I can confirm that the number of graduates taking the ACT in Louisiana is virtually 100% based on the data that I have access to as a university admissions officer. The number of ACT test takers exceeds the number of high school graduates in the Class of 2014. It’s not quite 100% among African American students but it is very, very close. Since neither data sets I have can be linked on the student level (since I don’t have identifiers) one can’t say with 100% certainty that they are a one on one match, but the data that are available outside of LDOE or BoR indicate that if there is any kind of fraud like liznola716 describes it is extremely limited. It’s pretty difficult to game the ACT because of the ACT’s own rules. Not that it couldn’t happen, but it is difficult to do on any large scale IMO. Thus why it is more likely to conclude that test scores might not be released because they don’t back up the LDOE’s narrative about school success. Now, whether a charter reports all its completers as “graduates” is another issue entirely as you have written about in another post.

  3. Hannah permalink

    My favorite phrase from this post is “success hologram.” Stealing!!!

  4. Thank you Mercedes. Your coverage of the RSD fraud is vital. In Philadelphia, and I’m sure all over the country, New Orleans is held up as the example of the educational system the corporate ed reformers want. To do this they must manipulate the information, with the help of the corporate media, to give the appearance of success.

    I have a post on my blog which shows how New Orleans is being used in this way in Philadelphia.

    Bill Green’s Education Agenda: Hidden in Plain Sight

  5. John White’s refusal to release these scores brands him as a total corporate reformer puppet with no interest in what is best for children but only what is best for corporate profits and/or the growth of the one percent’s wealth.

  6. Reblogged this on aureliomontemayor and commented:
    #EdBlogNet #CharterChicanery

  7. ulyankee permalink

    Actually, the 2014 ACT scores ARE available to college admissions and enrollment officers by subscription (ACT EIS). I’m one of those and I have them. But my institution had to pay for them, obviously. If I could get them then the state sure has them and has had them for a while. BTW, they do not paint a pretty picture for most NOLA area (charter) schools except for the usual high performers (Ben Franklin, Lusher, etc.). The state ACT profile report for the Class of 2014 has also been out since I think June or July so if DoE doesn’t have them it’s becau

    • ulyankee permalink

      Continued… because someone isn’t doing their job… I think EIS was available for purchase as far back as September.

    • ulyankee, DOE has them. No doubt. He just refuses to release them.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Louisiana’s Class of 2014 ACT Scores Are in This Post | SuddenlySlimmer
  2. Cade Brumley Is Louisiana’s New Superintendent. What LDOE Chaos Has He Inherited? | deutsch29

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