Few Studies Track Post-Katrina School Changes
Lost Data, Disparate Efforts Complicated Studies
For education researchers, the waterlogged rubble of New Orleans in 2005 was more than a perfect storm: It was called a perfect opportunity, a “blank slate” on which to test a wide range of education initiatives in a school district already scraping the bottom of the barrel and a community desperate for improvement.
“Two components that made it very compelling,” said Nadya Chinoy Dabby, the director of education programs for the Los Angeles-based Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation , which invested more than $8 million in the years following the storms. “There was the abject, dire need to do something in the wake of the storms … and there was really a chance to remake public education.”
Yet the blank slate has proved much more like an erased chalkboard. Missing data and the ghosts of overlapping improvement efforts make it difficult to get an accurate read on schools’ progress over the long recovery period. Five years later, researchers still struggle to translate the education changes in Crescent City schools into usable...
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