What EdNavigator’s 2017 Grades Tell Us About New Orleans Schools

When we recently published our 2017 letter grades for Orleans Parish K-8 schools, several schools saw a change from the official letter grade they received from the state Department of Education.

Overall, Orleans Parish schools performed better under our approach, which combines pass rates on state tests with student growth in math and English Language Arts. For instance, Orleans Parish had just 14 schools that earned grades of A or B from the state. With the consideration of student growth, that number increased to 23. Click here for the full list of Orleans Parish school grades.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the schools whose grades changed in a notable way, for better or for worse. New Orleans families who are in the process of completing OneApp applications this month may find that it illuminates schools they had not previously considered. Keep in mind, though, that letter grades aren’t everything, no matter where they come from. Think of them as a starting point for narrowing down the list of options. Knowing whether a school is really the right match for a particular student means taking into consideration a wide range of factors, of which academic performance is only one.

With that caveat aside, let’s take a look at the schools and their adjusted grades:

Schools that Improved

The new “A” rated schools

Two schools earned B ratings from the state but saw their grades rise to an A from EdNavigator. They are:

  • Esperanza Charter School. No surprise here. We remarked on Esperanza’s fast improvement when state test results came out in August. Its academic program has gained recognition citywide. 
  • KIPP Central City Academy. Long a standout, this middle school (not to be confused with its sibling, KIPP Central City Primary, highlighted below) continues to deliver one of the most academically rigorous, purposeful environments in New Orleans.

The new “B” rated schools

An incredible 12 schools in Orleans Parish saw their grades rise from C to B in EdNavigator’s analysis. Why so many? Compared to schools statewide, Orleans had a large share of schools with relatively high student growth. Their test pass rates were C level, but their growth was quite good – enough to earn them B grades overall from us. They are listed in descending order of overall score.

  • Harriet Tubman Charter School
  • KIPP Believe College Prep
  • Success Prep Academy
  • Samuel J Green Charter School
  • ENCORE Academy
  • ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary
  • ReNEW Dolores T. Aaron Elementary
  • James M. Singleton Charter School
  • KIPP New Orleans Leadership Academy
  • ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy
  • KIPP Central City Primary
  • Pierre A. Capdau Learning Center

(One small addition: Andrew Wilson Charter School would have received a B grade for its performance from EdNavigator had it received a letter grade from the state. However, because it is a relatively new turnaround school, it received a “T” grade. We’ve been impressed by its progress and recommend parents take a look at it, too.)

We hope these groups of schools can sustain or improve their performance in the coming year. It’s not easy. Maintaining high levels of student growth year after year requires attention to detail in every classroom. It requires building social fabric that endures. But the work is well worth it when it creates positive options for families in their local communities.

Schools that Declined

It is important to note that not all schools did better. Some saw their grades decline in our analysis because their growth rates were low. Low growth means students are not progressing as much, year to year, as similar students elsewhere.

Schools that received a B from the state, but a C from EdNavigator

These three schools looked pretty good on their state report cards, with decent test pass rates. But student growth rates were low, often in both ELA and math. Moreover, all three of these campuses had low student growth last year, too. It’s a worrisome pattern. We encourage parents to ask questions about why student learning progress appears stalled, and to consider the growth issues when making their applications.

  • Robert Russa Moton Charter School
  • Eleanor McMain Secondary School
  • Sophie B Wright Institute of Academic Excellence

Schools that received a C from the state, but a D from EdNavigator

Two of these three schools – Martin Behrman Charter Academy and Martin Luther King Charter School – also showed low growth last year and earned D grades from EdNavigator.

  • Martin Behrman Charter Academy
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School
  • Cohen College Prep

Should families avoid these schools? Not necessarily. Every student is different, and there are families having good experiences and academic success in all of these environments. But we believe every parent deserves to have the fullest information when selecting a school for their child. They should be aware of the challenges these schools are facing, and the Orleans Parish School Board should be paying close attention to these campuses as the reunification process continues. Notably, several of the schools are already under OPSB auspices.

There are many reasons why a school may show low growth, ranging from lack of consistency in instruction to lack of rigor. There are also many solutions. We have the highest hope that this current school year will be a stronger one for these campuses and, next year, they’ll be recognized for improvement.