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.
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.