During its first few years, the Recovery School District (RSD) simply opened schools in New Orleans, without closing any and without changing any school codes. But, five years ago the RSD began to close schools and change school codes as frequently as it opened schools. These actions compromise the RSD District Performance Score because test scores from students in closed schools are omitted. Also, when the RSD changes a school code, the old code and the test scores listed under that code are often eliminated. In addition, when schools are newly opened, many wait years to receive a School Performance Score, meaning that those students’ test scores are not calculated into the RSD District Performance Score. During the last five years, 2010 through 2014, the RSD closed 25 schools, opened 23 new schools, and changed the codes of 21 schools in New Orleans. The question is whether these actions represent the challenges of the newly created Recovery School District, or if they are a deliberate attempt to thwart research on its progress.
Each student has a student code that records information, such as, the student’s grade level, ethnicity, gender and test scores. Each public school has a school code that contains the collective information for all of the students in the school. The students’ test scores are used to calculate the School Performance Score (SPS) that is then used, along with the scores from other schools in the district, to calculate the District Performance Score (DPS).
When the Recovery School District in New Orleans closes 25 schools in five years, then test scores from students in those closed schools are not included in the calculation of the RSD District Performance Score. When a school closes, the students’ test scores are eliminated. Even if the students from the closed school enrolled in a different school the following year, their scores would still be discarded because their new school’s performance score would have already been calculated using the test scores of the students from the prior year. Eliminating the scores of so many students by closing schools makes it difficult to determine whether the RSD has improved or not improved.
In addition to closing schools during the last five years, the RSD opened 23 new schools and assigned each a new school code. Many of these schools did not receive a performance score for their first few years because scores are calculated based on growth from the previous years. Thus, the test scores of students in many of the newly opened schools are not included in the RSD District Performance Score.
Also, during the last five years, the RSD changed the school codes of 21 schools. Of these, several continued to have performance scores reported. But, beginning in the 2011-12 school year, the RSD started to remove performance scores for most of the schools whose codes it changed. For example, in 2011-12, five schools had school code changes and four of those schools, even though each had been opened for several years, did not have performance scores reported.
Harriett Tubman had been opened for five years when its school code changed from 395006 to 363001, and its performance score was eliminated.
Fannie C. Williams had been opened for four years when its school code changed from 396028 to 364001, and its performance score was eliminated.
Sarah Towles Reed Elementary had been opened for five years, when its school code changed from 396021 to 369003, and its performance score was eliminated.
Joseph S. Clark had been opened for five years when its school code changed from 396002 to 399003…and its performance score was eliminated.