The overall of the school system in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 definitively improved the city's public education, according to a Tulane University report.
But, NOLA.com reports, researchers warn it may not be the recipe to reform education elsewhere.
The changes resulted in significantly improved student performance, wrote Doug Harris, a Tulane professor and director of the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans. A typical elementary- or middle-school student's scores rose by 8 to 15 percentage points. The alliance's report appears in EducationNext.
After New Orleans was devastated by the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina, the city "essentially erased its traditional school district and started over," the report says. The Orleans Parish School Board lost almost all its authority, and the Louisiana Recovery School District took over most of the city's schools and converted them to charter schools. Most of the remaining Orleans Parish schools are now charters as well.
Harris was dubious the changes in New Orleans could produce the same outcomes elsewhere. The schools were in such dire shape that there was nowhere to go but up. In addition, the conditions in the city following the hurricane made New Orelans attractive to newcomers who wanted to change the system, which gave school leaders a large pool of teachers from which to choose.