RAND Gulf State Policy Institute Newsletter


Issue 12, October 2011

A periodic report on key public policy findings and activities of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute

RAND Study Examines New Orleans Charter and Traditional Schools

photo courtesy of FEMA/Booher

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans replaced its public school district with a decentralized, choice-based system of charter and traditional (district-run) schools, making it the first U.S. city to carry out charter-based reform on such a large scale. In 2009, researchers from RAND and the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University surveyed principals, teachers, and parents about the schools' governance and operations, educational programs, educator qualifications, and parental choice and involvement.

Teachers and principals in traditional schools report greater challenges than their counterparts at charter schools, particularly in terms of parental involvement, student discipline, and student transfers. Charter school parents reported greater satisfaction with their schools; however, the researchers noted that charter school students in the city at the time of the survey tended to have a slightly higher socioeconomic status than their counterparts in traditional schools. Given that charter school parents reported having a greater sense of choice than their traditional school counterparts, there remains a question of whether citywide choice is equally accessible and navigable by all families.

Related report:

Read moreThe Transformation of a School System: Principal, Teacher, and Parent Perceptions of Charter and Traditional Schools in Post-Katrina New Orleans

Recent RAND Research

high school students in chemistry class

Federal Education Policy Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Can Support States in School Improvement

Like all states, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are searching for the most-effective ways to improve schools; no specific strategy yet exists that will work for all states. Federal policymakers should consider the key issues of state capacity, cost, and state politics when designing policies to improve public education. Federal policy should also support more experimentation, evaluation, and dissemination of new knowledge and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.

Read moreFull Document | Research Brief

summer school class on lawn

Investment in Summer Learning Programs Can Stop the Summer Slide

Summer learning programs can prevent the summertime loss of knowledge and skills that disproportionately affects low-income students in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and other states. A study of existing programs resulted in targeted recommendations for school districts, policymakers, and state and federal funders.

Read moreFull Document | Research Brief | News Release

The Souris River in Minot, N.D., inundated the city, reached a historic height and flooded thousands of homes. June 2011 photo courtesy of Staff Sgt. Sharida Jackson/USAF.

Policymakers and Public Need to Be Able to Track and Account for Federal Disaster Funds

If Congress wants to improve its ability to track federal spending, the systems in place for tracking it should be brought up to 21st century technological standards, and the tools for data analysis and reporting should be improved to make things easier both for the people collecting and recording data and those who wish to analyze it. These improvements would not only increase accountability, but give Congress and the administration the information they need to better target increasingly limited funds.

Read moreCommentary

flooded houses

Incentives for Elevating New Orleans Homes Can Reduce Flood Damage

Nonstructural measures—such as restrictions on the use of floodplain land and incentives for home elevation and for relocation to lower-risk areas—can make New Orleans less vulnerable to storm surge and can do so cost effectively. Planners should combine these measures with additional wetlands restoration and levee upgrades to reduce future storm damage.

Read moreResearch Brief


Jennifer L. Steele

Jennifer Steele

Jennifer L. Steele is a policy researcher. She received an Ed.D. in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University, and an M.A. in education from Stanford University. Her research focuses on urban education policy, teacher quality, teacher labor markets, and data-driven decisionmaking in schools. Steele's work has appeared in such publications as the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Teachers College Record, and The Future of Children.

Read more about Jennifer L. Steele »

Georges Vernez

Georges Vernez

Georges Vernez, director of the RAND Center for Research on Immigration Policy, received his Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley. In 1991, he conceived and established the RAND Institute on Education and Training dedicated to examining all forms of education and training that people may get during their lives. His research topics include assimilation of immigrants and effects of immigration; education policy; economics of education; program implementation and evaluation; school restructuring and takeover; No Child Left Behind; social policy; the homeless; human resources development; and strategic planning.

Read more about Georges Vernez »


Visit us online at www.rand.org/gulf-states


Sally Sleeper, Director, RAND Gulf States Policy Institute



We invite your suggestions for researchers, projects, centers, and funding or collaboration opportunities to highlight in future issues. Write to us at RAND_Gulf_States_News@rand.org.

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