New study: NOLA charter schools deliver inequitable educations

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New study: NOLA charter schools deliver inequitable educations

A new study from Stanford University says that the proliferation of charter schools in New Orleans has “created a set of schools that are highly stratified by race, class, and educational advantage, operating in a hierarchy that provides very different types of schools and to different types of children.”

“While some have choice,” a release accompanying the study says, “others do not: both access and educational quality differ substantially, with the most vulnerable students least likely to experience the stability and supportive environments they need.”

The study by Stanford’s Center for Opportunity Policy in Education says that New Orleans charters are divided into three tiers, ranging from the most to least selective. Tier 1 includes three kinds of Orleans Parish School Board Schools (selective/priority, open-enrollment charters and direct run), Tier 2 includes three kinds of Recovery School District schools (charter, stand-alone, direct run), and Tier 3 includes two kinds of alternative schools (voluntary and assigned).

The socio-economic, racial and differences – as well as the letter grades assigned to the schools – are stunning:

  • Tier 1 – 13 of 16 schools are either A or B schools. There are no F schools. 89% of the city’s white students and 73% of Asian students attend these schools. Only 6% are students with disabilities and 60% are above poverty (6,620 students).
  • Tier 2 – 35 of 43 of these schools are either C, D, or F. 96% of black students attend these schools; 12% are children with disabilities, and 95% plus are below poverty (29,221 students).
  • Tier 3 – all schools are F schools. 99% of the students are black students and 26% are students with disabilities (717 students).

SCOPE notes when students lose their spots because of grades or other issues, they inevitably move down the hierarchy. There is little upward movement for those students.

The report finds that successful reform “must be designed to promote high quality school experiences for all students in settings that safeguard children’s rights of access to supportive learning opportunities.”

“That system,” the study concludes, “has not yet been created in New Orleans.”

Read more:

SCOPE Research Brief: Whose Choice? Student Experiences and Outcomes in the New Orleans School Marketplace

Full Report: Student Experiences and Outcomes in the New Orleans School Marketplace