How Can We Measure School Performance?
April 2017 - The Cowen Institute’s new report, How Can We Measure School Performance? examines accountability systems for schools, comparing both national and international frameworks. The publication of the report coincides with the efforts of the Louisiana Department of Education and Orleans Parish School Board to revise their accountability standards. By examining the ways in which other communities hold their schools accountable, the report offers ideas on innovative practices and measurement tools. The report shows that accountability is not a one-size-fits-all model and that there are many ways to approach this issue. It is intended to inform both education stakeholders and the public-at-large as they consider changes to the current accountability standards.
The State of Public Education in New Orleans
February 2017 - Today, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University released The State of Public Education in New Orleans 2016-17. The report is the Institute’s annual analysis of the city’s unique and ever-evolving public education system. This year’s report finds that school performance scores continues to increase, while areas for improvement and progress remain. The report also assesses the impact that RSD-OPSB school unification will likely have on students and families.
The State of Public Education in New Orleans includes comparisons of student performance in New Orleans to students nationwide, as well as discussion of how schools are financed. It also features an interview with Louisiana Department of Education Superintendent John White regarding school unification.
The Cowen Institute would also like to thank Avie and Jill Glazer for their generous support of this report.
What’s the plan for school unification?
November 2016 - Today, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University released a guide to help New Orleans’ families understand the unification process of public schools in the city. The Plan for School Unification in New Orleans explains that in most ways, the day-to-day experiences of students and families will largely remain unchanged as a result of unification. Unification will not affect school letter grades, curriculum, staffing in schools, or how families enroll through the OneApp process.
No Longer Invisible: Opportunity Youth in New Orleans
October 2016 - The Cowen Institute has released No Longer Invisible: Opportunity Youth in New Orleans. This new report outlines the challenges facing 16-24 year olds in New Orleans who are disconnected from employment and education. These young people are often referred to as opportunity youth. The report found that there are 6,820 opportunity youth in New Orleans, which was 14 percent of all 16-24 year olds in the city. Those youth faced significant economic barriers: a third lived below the poverty line and these young people also received food stamps and were uninsured at high rates.
To address a challenge as complex as youth disconnection, the report recommends expanded efforts to leverage the educational experiences of the city’s opportunity youth to link them to employment. The Cowen Institute supports numerous initiatives to reconnect opportunity youth, such as the EMPLOY Collaborative, the Earn and Learn apprenticeship program and New Orleans Opportunity Works. EMPLOY’s Youth Action Team, a committee of New Orleans young people, reviewed and advised on the report. The report was supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
Jump Start Videos
October 2016: Are you ready to laugh, cry, and learn about Louisiana’s newest high school degree career pathway? You’d better be. The Cowen Institute has released five new videos explaining the Jump Start initiative. The videos provide a closer look at Jump Start, offering insights on the objectives of the program, how it aligns students to jobs that actually exists, how it will impact counselors, and what it means for New Orleans’ high schools. Links to all five videos below, so be sure to watch them all.
- What is Jump Start?
- What is a Jump Start pathway?
- Counselors and Jump Start
- What are IBCs?
- Jump Start and New Orleans
The Year Ahead: New Orleans’ Public Education Governance for 2016-17
August 2016 – The Cowen Institute released our annual chart on the governance structure of public schools in New Orleans. The chart offers a comprehensive overview of public education in the city for the 2016-17 school year. It outlines which schools are transitioning from the Recovery School District to the Orleans Parish School Board, as well as which schools are opening and adding grade levels. We also have copies of chart available as a poster. If you would like a copy of the governance chart poster, please contact Vincent Rossmeier, Policy Director at the Cowen Institute, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download the chart here. You can also download a version without school performance scores.
LEA Status: Why It Matters For Schools Returning to the OPSB
As schools begin to return to the OPSB, a crucial decision for school leaders and charter boards is whether each school retains its own status as a Local Education Agency (LEA), or instead join the LEA of OPSB. Our new brief discusses why this decision is so important, and what financial and operational implications ought to be considered. The brief is targeted at charter school board members and outlines how schools face a decision of whether to maintain their own LEA status or join the OPSB’s, as well as the implications of that choice.
The Future of TOPS
As lawmakers consider cost-cutting measures to overhaul the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), the Cowen Institute has released a new report outlining how proposed changes to the state’s largest college scholarship program would affect students and access to higher education in Louisiana. The Future of TOPS examines how raising academic standards or moving to a need-based system would affect the program.
Annual Public Education Poll Released
The Cowen Institute has released What Happens Next? Voters’ Perceptions of K-12 Education in New Orleans. This is the Cowen Institute’s annual poll of voter perceptions of public education in the city. The poll found voters continue to support public education reforms in New Orleans with 63 percent saying charter schools have improved education in the city and 62 percent affirming that the city’s open enrollment policy has had a positive impact. However, public opinion is divided on when — and how —all charter schools should return to local control under the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB).
You can read the full report here.
You can read the full cross-tabs from the polling here.
Jump Start: Career Pathways for High School Students
Today, the Cowen Institute released Jump Start: Career Pathways for High School Students, a brief analyzing a new education initiative that seeks to strengthen programming and improve outcomes for career and technical education (CTE) in Louisiana high schools. Through Jump Start, all high school students will have the opportunity to pursue a CTE diploma that will provide an industry-certified credential upon graduation. One of the major goals of Jump Start is to align industry with high school education, ensuring students can choose to graduate with skills needed for jobs that exist locally. The Cowen Institute has also released a guide to help parents navigate Jump Start.
New Brief of Differentiated Funding
Today, the Cowen Institute released a primer on the differentiated funding formula being proposed for all RSD and OPSB New Orleans schools. The brief explains the funding formula, and how it will fund city schools if it is adopted. A common differentiated funding formula to cover OPSB and RSD schools is important to ensure all schools are funded equitably based on the cost of serving their students. You can download the brief here.
New Briefs on Financial Aid, High School Performance
Today, the Cowen Institute released reports analyzing New Orleans high school student test scores and completion rates for federal financial aid for college, two indicators that are critical to the long-term success of city students. The reports are part of the Cowen Institute’s efforts to support college and career readiness and success for all New Orleans youth. FAFSA for NOLA tracks Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application completion rates at high schools across the city. It also details why applying for federal aid improves college attainment for high school seniors. The report is accompanied by a website that includes weekly updates on FAFSA completion rates for each high school in New Orleans and resources for parents, students, and counselors about the financial aid process. The second report, The Snapshot: A Brief Analysis of High School Performance Scores, offers an overview of how high schools locally and statewide fared on the state’s accountability system last year. The report finds that the number of A schools statewide more than doubled last year in large part due to increased Progress Points and improvement in all four components of the grading scale. The report also includes interviews with school leaders about high school performance.
Cowen Institute Releases Brief on Apprenticeships
In conjunction with U.S. Apprenticeship Week, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University released a brief advocating for an increase in apprenticeships across New Orleans and Louisiana as an effective way to link opportunity youth to successful careers. New Orleans has the third highest rate of opportunity youth among the 50 largest metro areas nationwide: nearly one in five young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are disconnected from education and employment. Apprenticeships directly connect youth to high-demand jobs, while also providing a highly-skilled, custom-trained workforce to employers. They are also one of the most effective and cost-efficient workforce training programs. Download the brief here and watch the video below.
Cowen Institute Releases Brief on School Governance
The Cowen Institute has released a new report on the ever-evolving structure of public school governance in New Orleans, explaining what types of charter schools exist in the city and how schools changed between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. The policy brief is a primer on the decentralized governance structure of the city’s 82 public schools. The district has 75 charter schools, with the vast majority housed within the Recovery School District (RSD). Within the last year, the total number of RSD charters shrank by five schools, while another of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (BESE) charter schools moved to New Orleans and the Orleans Parish School Board’s district grew by four charters. Download the brief here. Download just the governance charts here.
Cowen Institute Releases Brief on Common Core
Common Core is at the forefront of contemporary education discussions in the United States. In the coming years, its adoption and implementation will be critical in defining what and how American students learn. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) raise K-12 academic benchmarks, thereby requiring schools and districts to adopt new curricula and state officials to seek new student assessments. While Louisiana originally adopted Common Core, its future in the state is in question. This brief clarifies what Common Core is, presents what it will mean for states, and discusses what its future looks like in Louisiana. Check out our new Common Core Site here. Read and download the report here. Download the infographic here. Watch the video below.
Cowen Institute Receives Grant for Youth Career Pathways
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has selected the Cowen Institute at Tulane University to receive a two-year $200,000 grant to support the Institute’s work in connecting Opportunity Youth with career pathways through the cross-sector EMPLOY collaborative. The grant will also help fund the implementation of a shared data system for youth service providers. Opportunity Youth are young adults aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working. Read the release here.
Cowen Institute at Tulane University Announces New Executive Director
The Cowen Institute at Tulane University has hired Amanda Kruger Hill as its new executive director. Hill, a former high school principal who currently leads quality reviews of local schools and mentors principals through her work at New Schools for New Orleans, will assume the role of executive director at the Cowen Institute in mid-July. Click here to read more about Cowen Institute’s new executive director.
The State of Public Education: Ten Years After Hurricane Katrina
Annually, The State of Public Education in New Orleans has served as the Institute’s flagship publication to inform the public, including parents, legislators, and city residents, about the impact the public education transformation has had on students, educators, and schools. This retrospective edition of the report includes data and analysis from the past ten years, providing historical context, as well as examination of the issues that will become crucial to address in the years to come. This year’s report can be found at www.speno2015.com and has special interactive features that can only be found online. We interviewed 16 influential leaders in public education – you can watch their interviews here. We also created an interactive historical timeline that documents the evolution of public education in New Orleans, which can be viewed here. Click here to read the report.
Issue Briefs: Investing in Opportunity
The Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a new federal law that will provide more funding for job training and adult education could greatly benefit opportunity youth locally, according to a brief released today by the Cowen Institute in partnership with Baptist Community Ministries and the New Orleans Business Alliance. Opportunity Youth are young adults aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working. This brief provides background on the law, highlights why it is important, explains how it will be implemented, and investigates its effectiveness. Click here to read the report.
K-12 Public Education through the Public’s Eye
Since 2009, the Cowen Institute has conducted an annual poll to assess local public perception of the public education system in New Orleans. We have done so out of the belief that understanding how the public at-large, and parents in particular, view these changes is a crucial part of evaluating the effect these changes have had on parents, students, and the community as a whole. These perceptions will likely help shape how public education will continue to evolve in New Orleans. Click here to view the full poll, complete with analysis and take-aways. Click here to view the toplines and see just the poll results.
Issue Briefs: CMOs in New Orleans
According to a brief released today by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, 60 percent of public charter schools in New Orleans are now part of a charter management organization (CMO). “This issue brief offers a unique analysis of the increasing prevalence of CMOs in New Orleans,” said Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy for the Cowen Institute. “The brief helps to highlight the benefits and drawbacks CMOs have for individual schools, students, parents, and administrators.” Click here to read the press release.
New Earn and Learn Promotional Video
Check out our new video promoting our Earn and Learn Career Pathways Program!
Reconnecting Opportunity Youth: Data Reference Guide
Today, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University released Reconnecting Opportunity Youth: Data Reference Guide. The report, authored by Senior Policy Analyst Patrick Sims, is a comprehensive examination of opportunity youth at the national, state, and metropolitan levels from a cost and demographic perspective. “This report provides a baseline for understanding who opportunity youth are both in New Orleans and nationally,” said Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy for the Cowen Institute. “Opportunity youth can truly be assets for their communities when they are reconnected to quality employment, educational, and training opportunities. Reconnection of this kind is the first step in ensuring opportunity youth persist on pathways to living-wage careers.” Click here to visit our library, which contains a complete listing of all Cowen Institute publications from 2007 to the present.
Interactive Governance & School Guide
The Cowen Institute has launched a new interactive tool to help families who are currently gathering information to complete school applications. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGUIWzfRGEA Using the Cowen Institute Governance and School Guide, families can filter schools by performance, OneApp participation and geographic zones, grade levels, and by the mode of transportation offered. With the interactive map, families can determine how far a school is from their home and the length of commute by car, public transportation, bicycle, or on foot.