New Orleans Students Shrink Achievement Gap

NOLA schools show that disaster doesn’t have to mean disastrous test scores for Blacks affected by the storm.

Posted: 08/08/2011 03:24 PM EDT

A disproportionate number of African-Americans were displaced by Hurricane Katrina, but that did not deter the academic determination of African-American children in New Orleans. According to reports, the achievement gap in the city is narrowing.

 

Data released shows that between 2001 and 2005 the percentage of Black students who scored at or above their grade level on their state standardized test advanced 9 percentage points from 23 percent to 32 percent. From 2007 to 2011 that number grew even higher, more than doubling to 21 percentage points; the number of students who scored on their state standardized test at or above their grade level increased from 32 percent to 53 percent.

 

The achievement gap between Black and white students shrank from 56 percentage points four years ago to 42 points today, according to a New Orleans publication.

 

"These data represent quite nice gains," Daria Hall, director of K-12 policy at the advocacy group Education Trust told the paper. "Obviously students are not yet where they need to be and the school system has a very long way to go to ensure that all young people are getting the education they need to be prepared for the world after high school. But this is really meaningful progress."

 

The fastest shrinking disparities are among students placed in the state-run Recovery School District. The Recovery School District was administered by the Louisiana Department of Education in 2003 and was designed to transform underperforming schools into successful places for children to learn. The district presented a shift toward independent charter schools when seizing control of select campuses after Hurricane Katrina.

 

Other schools throughout the state that were not in the Recovery School District, however, also showed improvement.

 

Perhaps schools across the nation can use Katrina-affected schools to see that it’s not what happens to your school that matters most, but what is done after.

 

 

To share story ideas with Danielle Wright, follow and tweet her at @DaniWrightTV.

 

(Photo: Jonathan Ernst / Landov)

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