Not just a great teacher. Not only a few good schools. An entire city.

Last year, Arnold Ventures commissioned CREDO (out of Stanford University) to study the effects of charter and innovation schools in select cities across the country.

Most of the cities included in the study were cities where Arnold Ventures (and now The City Fund) have partnered with local leaders to expand high-quality schools.

The results just came in for New Orleans.

Worries of Stagnation in New Orleans

Many observers, including myself, have been worried about the stagnating proficiency scores in New Orleans.

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One of the major problems of looking at proficiency cut-offs is they are a somewhat arbitrary cut-off line. For example, if a student started off extremely below proficient, but then improved to one test score question away from being proficient, the student would still show up as not proficient.

This is why Arnold Ventures funded the CREDO analysis. CREDO’s methodology allows us to examine achievement growth across all of the performance spectrum.

CREDO Analysis of New Orleans 

Fortunately for kids in New Orleans, CREDO found that New Orleans schools are continuing to outperform the state on academic growth.

Here is the most important slide from their analysis:

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The statistically positive achievements effects indicate that students in New Orleans are catching-up with the state somewhere in the range of .05 to .1 standard deviations a year.

To put these gains in some context, the black white achievement gap in the United States is .8 standard deviations.

These are strong, citywide annual gains. And it’s very important to emphasize that these are city level effects.

In most cities, the longer poor children stay in the system the further behind they get. In New Orleans, the opposite is true: the longer you enroll in New Orleans public schools, the closer you get to your peers across the state. 

This is not the case of a few charter schools doing well. This is about the whole city making gains.

The goal of city based education reform should be for all kids to benefit, not just a few.

And that’s happening in New Orleans.

Hopefully, these gains will continue to compound and, eventually, further raise citywide proficiency, graduation, and post-secondary success rates.

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