Ten years after Katrina, miraculously, kids in New Orleans are testing better than before. Here’s how.
I was born and raised in Louisiana—a small town called Ferriday, north of Baton Rouge. My family is scattered around the state and in late August of 2005, when word came that a massive storm was bearing down on the Gulf Coast, I headed south, both to cover the story and be with the people I care about.
I reported on the unfolding chaos and tragedy for NBC News, returning many times over the weeks, months, and even years to follow up on New Orleans’s recovery and on the fate of the many dispossessed residents and evacuees. Many of those that I had reported about and gotten to know were children.
I talked with kids in the makeshift street camp outside the convention center where 20,000 people waited three days without food for rescue (no one voiced their anguish better than a little boy I met named Charles Evans) and in the horrifying squalor of the Superdome.
I would have never believed it back then if anyone had told me that over the next 10 years these children would so improve their school test results, graduation rates, and college entry rates that a nationally prominent researcher would conclude, “We are not aware of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short time.” That could not happen in the New Orleans that I knew, not in a million years.
As we now know, that’s exactly what has happened since the city’s near-destruction a decade ago. A paper titled “Good News for New Orleans,” released by Tulane University’s Education Research Center this month, lays out the findings.
Between 2005 and 2012, the ERC found, student test performance rose by 15 points. To control for test prep, researchers use scores in social studies and science to offset reading and math.
The graduation rate rose 10 points during this period and the college entry rate rose 14 points.
But then, you actually may not know about these gains.
As Richard Whitmire pointed out on The 74, the nation’s top-shelf newspapers have devoted a total of zero coverage to the news: i.e., a largely black and very poor American city has experienced unprecedented educational growth following a radical reorganization of its school system made necessary by a massive disaster. (The New York Times finally sounded in last Sunday, publishing a critical oped piece—it is rebutted here.)
Source: The Daily Beast | Campbell Brown