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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An education think tank at Tulane University says New Orleans' public high schools appear to be exceeding expectations at educating so-called "vulnerable students."
The study, released Wednesday by Tulane's Cowen Institute, defines vulnerable students as those who are more than two years above grade-level age in ninth grade, who failed an eighth-grade assessment test, who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches or who are eligible for special education services.
The analysis calculates the percentage of vulnerable students at each high school and comes up with a score a school would be expected to achieve.
The study found 60 percent of New Orleans public high schools exceeded passage rates on End of Course exams. Half had higher-than-predicted ACT scores and all were at or above their predicted four-year graduation rates.
Exactly what accounts for the better-than-predicted scores is unclear and the Cowen Institute says more research is needed to identify what makes a school successful at serving vulnerable students.
"While the analysis provides a useful means for identifying schools that are performing at or above their predicted levels given their vulnerable student population, it does not identify the causes behind a school's successes or shortcomings," the report said.
Most New Orleans public high schools are overseen by the state Recovery School District as the result of legislation passed after the widespread damage that resulted from levee failures during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The RSD oversees 57 schools, all charter schools that are run by independent entities; the Orleans Parish School Board oversees 20 schools, most of those charters as well.
The Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, named for Tulane's recently retired former president Scott Cowen, was begun in 2007 to assess the effects of the post-Katrina reforms.
The Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives: http://www.coweninstitute.com/