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New Report Released: "Did the New Orleans School Reforms Increase Segregation?"

April 4, 2017

A new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans at Tulane University examines how the post-Katrina school reforms affected segregation in New Orleans publicly funded schools.

Researchers ana­lyzed changes in seg­re­ga­tion across a num­ber of stu­dent demo­graph­ics, includ­ing race, income, spe­cial edu­ca­tion par­tic­i­pa­tion, Eng­lish Lan­guage Learn­er sta­tus, and achieve­ment. New Orleans schools were high­ly seg­re­gat­ed pri­or to the reforms, espe­cial­ly in terms of race and income, and the study finds that seg­re­ga­tion lev­els remain high post-Kat­ri­na. The authors find lit­tle evi­dence that the reforms affect­ed seg­re­ga­tion for ele­men­tary school stu­dents, but most groups of high school stu­dents they exam­ined were affect­ed. The authors, Lind­say Bell Weixler, Nathan Bar­rett, Dou­glas Har­ris, and Jen­nifer Jen­nings, also find no con­sis­tent trends in racial seg­re­ga­tion, as some stu­dent groups became more seg­re­gat­ed and oth­ers less so. Among high school stu­dents, seg­re­ga­tion has increased for low-income stu­dents and Eng­lish lan­guage learn­ers but decreased for spe­cial edu­ca­tion stu­dents. The study also finds that seg­re­ga­tion by achieve­ment lev­els has gen­er­al­ly declined since Kat­ri­na. Inte­grat­ing schools has been a long-stand­ing chal­lenge for dis­tricts,” Weixler said. Our results for New Orleans con­firm the broad­er nation­al pat­tern that very few school sys­tems — whether tra­di­tion­al or those with choice-based reforms — have had much suc­cess in inte­grat­ing schools.” This spring, the Edu­ca­tion Research Alliance for New Orleans is also releas­ing a series of papers that focus on New Orleans teach­ers. The first study in this series, which explored the effects of Louisiana’s teacher tenure reform, was released in Feb­ru­ary. Forth­com­ing stud­ies will exam­ine the imple­men­ta­tion of the statewide teacher eval­u­a­tion sys­tem known as Com­pass, as well as changes in teach­ers’ per­cep­tions of New Orleans schools from those who taught before and after Hur­ri­cane Katrina.