BRAC report suggests growing number of high-quality public school options paying off
BATON ROUGE, La. (May 31, 2023) — The Baton Rouge Area Chamber today released a research report showing that local public school enrollment among middle- to upper-income students hit a 10-year high in 2022. As the report explains, decades of academic research show that students across the income spectrum benefit from attending schools that enroll more middle- to upper-income students. For the full report, visit brac.org/research.
Local business leaders, a group whose children are largely classified as middle- and upper-income, have for years cited a lack of high-quality K-12 public educational options as a major concern. The report’s key finding suggests that the community-wide effort to expand the number of high-quality seats in local public schools is paying off as more families with greater financial means are choosing a public option as their preferred schooling method for their children.
This finding comes as the yearslong effort to expand the number of seats in high performing public schools across the Capital Region continues. The upcoming school year will feature the expansion of some of the region’s highly rated magnet programs and the addition of several new public charter options that bring with them track records of success, raising the likelihood that this trend persists.
“In a twist of surprising, good news, this report challenges the recurring adage that public school is not a quality choice for EBR students,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “Our team’s research shows that efforts to increase school choice and quality are paying off with more middle- to upper-income parents now choosing to send their children to local public schools. We encourage EBR schools and charter school leadership to continue to seek out and develop more ways for attracting parents to try public.”
Other key findings in the report include:
- Local public schools enrolled 10,722 middle- and upper-income students in October 2022, an increase of 2,722 students, or 34%, over October 2012 enrollment.
- Compared to 2012, 64 schools currently enroll more middle- and upper-income students while 45 enroll fewer.
- Between 2021 and 2022, 85 local public schools increased their middle- and upper-income student enrollment while 10 schools saw a decrease.
- The share of middle- and upper-income students as a percentage of the student body more than doubled at ten schools over the last year, including four ‘F’-rated schools, three ‘D’ schools, one ‘C’ school, and one ‘B’ school.
- Academic performance is higher for all students, including economically disadvantaged students, in schools with larger middle- and upper-income student enrollments; this relationship holds true for public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish.
“We haven’t been shy in our aggressive approach to public education in East Baton Rouge Parish,” said Dr. Sito Narcisse, superintendent of East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools. “Growing the number of high-quality programs available to local families, whether through our Focus Choice schools initiative, Pathways to Bright Futures program, or through the expansion of popular magnet programs at schools like B.R. FLAIM is what we’re focused on, and parents are clearly supportive of these initiatives.”
“For years we were preparing ourselves (and our wallets) to send our children to a local private school. However, after a friend encouraged us to tour the magnet schools, we were pleasantly surprised at the various award-winning programs in our community,” said Marcy Whitney, parent of an EBR schools’ student. “We finally felt like we found the missing piece to our educational puzzle at Mayfair Laboratory School. With its high-performing magnet program, diverse student population, supportive faculty, STEM focus, dual teacher model, and inclusive environment, it checked all the boxes and surpassed our expectations. Witnessing our children’s growth and enthusiasm for the last five years in such a welcoming environment has been truly remarkable!”
“The expansion of high-quality public charter schools and other successful schools of choice, like magnet programs, are attracting families back into public education and the local school system with the confidence that their child is receiving an education that sets them up for success,” said Chris Meyer, current CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and former CEO of New Schools for Baton Rouge. “Our community’s continued effort to recruit and launch high performing charter schools to the Baton Rouge area is paying off for all families, and we’re proud that work is contributing to the trends explained in this report.”
To put together this report, BRAC compiled and analyzed attendance and performance records for all public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish from 2012 through 2022, using the October headcounts to determine enrollment in each school year. Every East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools (EBRPSS) campus was included in the analysis, as were all public charter schools serving EBRPSS students. middle- and upper-income students were defined as students not classified as economically disadvantaged; a breakdown of this definition can be found in the report, which can be accessed here.
About the Baton Rouge Area Chamber
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) is an aggressively ambitious regional economic development organization with a bias for action. BRAC seeks to push Baton Rouge beyond the status quo, unleash its potential, and support a vibrant business community that believes the finish line does not exist. BRAC seeks to accelerate economic opportunity in the Baton Rouge Area, for everyone, through BRING IT! Baton Rouge, its five-year, regional strategic plan. Learn more about BRAC at brac.org.