Cliff comes tight with questions he has as a parent who will be sending his child to a school in New Orleans. I started to respond to his post, then realized I was bloviating badly in his comments section. It has turned into a post of its own:
Good questions. Please let me know when and where you find answers. I've been looking for some of those answers since September.
I can't speak for Clark, as I have not heard much about this particular school. But the best unsolicited advice I can give you (and it would be the same for any parent with kids at any school in New Orleans), as a current and soon to be ex-teacher in the RSD (with plenty of friends working the Charters...) once your kid gets into a school, stay involved.
Go to the school. Meet the teachers. Pick up your kid's report card without having to be told to do so (teachers are currently asked to call parents to let them know this). Observe your kid's classes and make sure they are getting what they need. Observe other grades and see how the progressions work. Make sure they use the library and computers and resources they have available.
Don't tell your kid that you are going to go to the school. Just go up and see what the class is like without them knowing you are there.
Recognize that the friends your kid makes will be the most important factors on your kid's at-school behavior. Your kid's classmates will be the second most important factor. Parents, administrators and teachers are a distant factor.
Understand that many teachers and administrators, new and old, are as confused about the system as the most involved parents. Best thing is to get to know some teachers and administrators, and volunteer to help (any time you can spare) in school functions. That will keep you in the loop as everyone learns how this system works (or fails).
Rise up, join, or (you may have to) start your PTA group.
If your kid ends up in a class without supplies, complain. In writing. To the school and the district. You can do this respectfully, quietly, and in order (school first, then district), but it must - must be done. Lack of involvement has done as much damage if not more than mismanaged funding. The same advice can be said for:
If your kid ends up in a class with bullies, complain. In writing. To the school and the district. If the bullies have something called IEP's, complain a lot. In writing. Get to know a lawyer.
If your kid ends up at a school where they are lumped into a class with other students with far greater or far less ability to grasp the subject matter, complain. In writing. To the school and the district. Get to know a lawyer.
These actions may sound harsh, but from what I've seen, the schools are hamstrung by the district (who is hamstrung by obscure educational "policies" from somewhere...) in dealing with those few students whose presence in any classroom or school can absolutely derail and wreck the learning of dozens of other students.
The most desperate need for the schools in New Orleans right now are effective alternative and special education schools for those students who cannot function, socially or organically, in classrooms of 20+ other on-level students.
Differentiation of instruction is fine for 7th graders if the spread is that they read between a 5th grade and a 9th grade level. If your whole class of 7th graders has a reading spread of Pre-K to 10th grade levels, no amound of differentiation is going to work. The near level, on level and advanced students will not be pushed while the teacher(s) are busy trying to calm the Pre-K reading level 7th grader who is jumping on tables to distract everyone from the fact that he or she can't read.
In such a case, all students get 'left behind,' and when New Orleans' LEAP scores come out, that should almost totally answer your question for "why" they are not performing well.
If your kid is going to a school where all students are lumped together with no rhyme or reason and the onus is put on the teacher to "differentiate instruction effectively," your kid is going to have problems with bullies, instruction, and idleness in a class waiting for the furthest behind to be catered to because they have the most involved advocates both inside and outside the bureaucracy. Your student will also have less consistency in instruction, as teachers in such situations have been known to burn out quickly.
You must be your child's own advocate, but moving them from school to school, public, charter and private only keeps the problem perpetual. Fight for the school to become better, and the better administrators, teachers and students will all be better off and we can start to really fix this thing. If you sit around and wait for anyone else to do something about it, well, we've seen what that gets us.
Congratulations on your lottery slot. Good luck with the kid and the school.