Most students in NOLA whose school is closed end up in one of their top choices for the following year. Here’s how.

This post from Ed Navigator is worth reading. It covers schools closures in New Orleans.

Over ten years after Katrina, and under an elected school board, New Orleans continues to selectively close underperforming schools.

I view this as a good thing, given the growing body of research that shows that school closures help kids when the students end up in better schools.

New Orleans uses a unified enrollment system to help kids get into better schools.

The unified enrollment system gives preference to students whose schools were closed the year before. If your school was closed, the algorithm bumps you to the top of the list for any school you want to get into.

Ed Navigator works with families whose schools have been closed, so that they can help select great schools.

The result?

This year, 87% of students who attended a closing school and used the enrollment system received on of their top three choices for the next school year.

94% of the students will now attend a school that is rated higher by the state’s grading system.

The system is by no means perfect. My biggest critique is that the state’s grading system still relies too heavily on absolute test scores (rather than growth). I also understand the counterarguments that government should never close schools and should instead let enrollment patterns (driven by parental choice) determine which schools grow and which close.

But I would rather have the New Orleans enrollment and closure system than just about any other big city system in the country.  In too many cities, really bad schools stay open for too long. And if anything happens to them, kids often end up in schools that are just as bad.

This is not what happens in New Orleans.

It’s also great to see Parag Pathak (and his colleagues) work in action. Parag recently won the John Bates Clark award in part because of his contributions to working on unified enrollment systems.

It’s rare that an idea goes from the ivory tower to think tanks to actual implementation by a democratically elected body to  helping citizens.

This is really great to see. And really great for kids in New Orleans.

2 thoughts on “Most students in NOLA whose school is closed end up in one of their top choices for the following year. Here’s how.

  1. Mike G

    Most large companies incur a one-time cost when they shut down a low-performing business line. It’s great that this is now recognized in school closure: the one-time cost of access to an Ed Navigator.

    An idea for you and Tim:

    a. Nov 2018, go back to all those uprooted families. Have them rate their old school and current school (Baby Ben perhaps). It would be interesting to learn if their satisfaction is higher.

    b. If satisfaction is higher, perhaps create documentary video, as a tool for any school system — public/private/charter — that is shuttered in future years. (Principal could show to parents when they announce the bad news, perhaps at same time of introducing Ed Navigator support).

    “Hey, Jane Pauley here. I visited with parents whose school was shut down. We found that 80% prefer their new school, 20% do not. So at least there’s some hope in a challenging situation. Here are 5 of their stories in their own words: 4 good, 1 bad.”


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