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The Education Research Alliance for New Orleans (ERA) is a research organization dedicated to understanding the post-Katrina school reforms in New Orleans. ERA is housed in the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University and supported by funding from Tulane's Murphy Institute.

The work of ERA is guid­ed by the fol­low­ing principles:

Guiding Principles

1. People are entitled to our own opinions about the reforms, but not to their own facts.

The New Orleans school reform mod­el is con­tro­ver­sial and that is one rea­son why objec­tive analy­sis is so impor­tant. We will rec­og­nize philo­soph­i­cal dif­fer­ences, but focus on the facts. We will acknowl­edge and describe con­tro­ver­sies, but will take sides only when the facts clear­ly sup­port it.

2. The focus should be on students—all students.

Fun­da­men­tal edu­ca­tion issues often get lost in media hype and inter­est group pol­i­tics. No mat­ter what the top­ic, our analy­ses will always come back to the basic ques­tions: What does this mean for the city’s stu­dents on aver­age? And what does it mean for dif­fer­ent groups of stu­dents, poor and mid­dle class, black and white, native Eng­lish speak­ers and Eng­lish Lan­guage Learners?

3. Test scores, college, and other outcomes are important, but we need to understand what is happening inside schools.

Gen­uine school improve­ment requires under­stand­ing not just what the out­comes were, but what led to them — what specif­i­cal­ly edu­ca­tors did or failed to do. Anoth­er rea­son not to focus nar­row­ly on stu­dent out­comes is that they are often mea­sured poor­ly and there­fore do not reflect what stu­dents have learned or how they have been affected.

4. Understanding cause and effect is critical.

There has been much debate since the post-Kat­ri­na reforms start­ed about how and how well the sys­tem has been work­ing, but these debates have ben informed main­ly by anec­dotes and trends. To under­stand whether any pro­gram or pol­i­cy helps stu­dents, we have to go fur­ther — to pro­vide a pic­ture of the entire city and to sep­a­rate cor­re­la­tion from cau­sa­tion. For this, rea­son, much of the work of ERA will focus on com­par­isons of pre- and post-Kat­ri­na outcomes.

5. Research that meets the highest academic standards can still be useful and accessible to the general public, educators, and policymakers.

The research we pro­duce will be in-depth, meet the high­est aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards, and even­tu­al­ly be pub­lished in peer-reviewed jour­nals. Yet, each report will avoid the jar­gon and abstrac­tion of aca­d­e­m­ic work and will aim for con­cise­ness, clar­i­ty, and rel­e­vance to the deci­sions fac­ing local and nation­al lead­ers. We will also pub­lish some descrip­tive stud­ies and pol­i­cy reports. As the name implies ERA-New Orleans is for New Orleans and its students.