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Black achievement gap narrows in New Orleans schools

August 8, 2011 |  7:35 am

Classroom

The achievement gap for African American students in New Orleans appears to be closing, according to new data published Monday, a trend that will be scrutinized closely by national education experts tracking the retooling of the public school system after Hurricane Katrina.

“State data show that 53% of African American youngsters in New Orleans scored at grade level or better on state tests this spring, compared with 51% of black students across Louisiana,” the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. “Just four years ago, only 32% of black students in New Orleans had achieved grade level, compared with 43% statewide.”

The achievement gap between black and white students within New Orleans remains significant, but that, too, has closed, if modestly, from 56 percentage points four years ago to 42 points today, according to the paper.

After Katrina, most of the city’s ailing schools were taken over by the Recovery School District; many were reconstituted as charters.

According to the Times-Picayune, testing gains were recorded in the Recovery district, but also in the traditional New Orleans public school system, which operates 17 campuses.

The results are the product of one of the most sweeping educational reforms in recent American history.

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-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta

Photo: The flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina has forced New Orleans' schools to make a fresh start. Credit: Lori Waselchuk / For The Times

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