The Education Aftermath: An Analysis of New Orleans School Reform in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina
Morrison, Donna R
This paper studies the relationship between the New Orleans public school restructuring following Hurricane Katrina and the change in district performance. In 2005, the majority of New Orleans schools were taken over by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and placed into the Recovery School District. Since the change, the majority of the schools have been transformed into charter schools. Using demographic data from the National Center for Education Statistics and District Performance Scores from the Louisiana Department of Education for the years 2001 to 2011, I conducted a difference-in-differences analysis to study the relationship between the school restructuring and the district performance in Orleans Parish as compared to other parishes in Louisiana. The District Performance Scores are composite scores created by the State Department of Education that measure school performance based on standardized test scores, graduation rates, and progress points. For the years 2008 and 2009, there are no statistically significant differences in the trends in District Performance Scores for Orleans Parish and the other parishes in Louisiana. However, holding student demographics and school characteristics constant, I found a statistically significant increase in New Orleans school performance following the considerable reforms as compared to other parishes in Louisiana in 2010 and 2011. The lag in improvement following the reforms is expected, given the amount of time it would take the changes to be reflected in District Performance Scores. The results of this study have important implications for urban school reform, as the drastic changes resulted in an increase in district performance.
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