NEW ORLEANS — Good news seems hard to find these days, but New Orleans has plenty right now. The most recent test scores for the city’s schools show students steadily improving. Widely considered one of the nation’s worst school districts for years, New Orleans’ schools have been showing remarkable gains.
The most recent data on school performance in the 9-year Recovery School District (RSD) (that was designed to take underperforming schools and transform them into places for children to learn) indicate a 28% performance increase in students testing at the “basic” level since 2007. “Basic” is the minimum standard acceptable for passage to the next grade. Graduation rates have also gone up according to state data — from 49.7% in 2009-2010 to 57.3 in 2010-2011.
Not everyone in Louisiana is convinced, however, that the improved test scores represent the whole picture about New Orleans public schools. Debra Vaughan, the assistant director of Tulane University’s Cowen Institute on Public Education Initiatives, maintains that the “basic” measure “[is] just a low bar.”