New Orleans schools chief Paul Vallas recently passed his first major test when fourth and eighth graders in the city's public schools posted significantly higher scores on the state exam--and his plans for using technology to help spur achievement might lead to even further gains.

The superintendent of a 33-school district that includes many of New Orleans' historically worst-performing schools has received mostly positive reviews after his first year on the job, but many challenges remain. Too many students continue to fail or not show up for classes, there is limited funding for dilapidated buildings, and the district needs to retain


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