The Future of TOPS

As lawmakers consider cost-cutting measures to overhaul the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS), the Cowen Institute has released a new report outlining how proposed changes to the state’s largest college scholarship program would affect students and access to higher education in Louisiana. The Future of TOPS examines how raising academic standards or moving to a need-based system would affect the program.

Read the full report and watch the video.

Annual Public Education Poll Released

2016 Poll CoverThe Cowen Institute has released What Happens Next? Voters’ Perceptions of K-12 Education in New Orleans. This is the Cowen Institute’s annual poll of voter perceptions of public education in the city. The poll found voters continue to support public education reforms in New Orleans with 63 percent saying charter schools have improved education in the city and 62 percent affirming that the city’s open enrollment policy has had a positive impact. However, public opinion is divided on when — and how —all charter schools should return to local control under the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB).

You can read the full report here.

You can read the full cross-tabs from the polling here.

Jump Start: Career Pathways for High School Students

Jump Start Brief.FINAL-1 Today, the Cowen Institute released Jump Start: Career Pathways for High School Students, a brief analyzing a new education initiative that seeks to strengthen programming and improve outcomes for career and technical education (CTE) in Louisiana high schools. Through Jump Start, all high school students will have the opportunity to pursue a CTE diploma that will provide an industry-certified credential upon graduation. One of the major goals of Jump Start is to align industry with high school education, ensuring students can choose to graduate with skills needed for jobs that exist locally. The Cowen Institute has also released a guide to help parents navigate Jump Start.

New Brief of Differentiated Funding

CI DIfferentiated Funding DraftToday, the Cowen Institute released a primer on the differentiated funding formula being proposed for all RSD and OPSB New Orleans schools. The brief explains the funding formula, and how it will fund city schools if it is adopted. A common differentiated funding formula to cover OPSB and RSD schools is important to ensure all schools are funded equitably based on the cost of serving their students. You can download the brief here.

New Briefs on Financial Aid, High School Performance

Cowen Institute FAFSA Feb 2016_Page_01Today, the Cowen Institute released reports analyzing New Orleans high school student test scores and completion rates for federal financial aid for college, two indicators that are critical to the long-term success of city students. The reports are part of the Cowen Institute’s efforts to support college and career readiness and success for all New Orleans youth. FAFSA for NOLA tracks Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application completion rates at high schools across the city. It also details why applying for federal aid improves college attainment for high school seniors. The report is accompanied by a website that includes weekly updates on FAFSA completion rates for each high school in New Orleans and resources for parents, students, and counselors about the financial aid process. The second report, The Snapshot: A Brief Analysis of High School Performance Scores, offers an overview of how high schools locally and statewide fared on the state’s accountability system last year. The report finds that the number of A schools statewide more than doubled last year in large part due to increased Progress Points and improvement in all four components of the grading scale. The report also includes interviews with school leaders about high school performance.  

Cowen Institute Releases Brief on Apprenticeships

apprenticeships_coverIn conjunction with U.S. Apprenticeship Week, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University released a brief advocating for an increase in apprenticeships across New Orleans and Louisiana as an effective way to link opportunity youth to successful careers. New Orleans has the third highest rate of opportunity youth among the 50 largest metro areas nationwide: nearly one in five young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are disconnected from education and employment. Apprenticeships directly connect youth to high-demand jobs, while also providing a highly-skilled, custom-trained workforce to employers. They are also one of the most effective and cost-efficient workforce training programs. Download the brief here and watch the video below.

Cowen Institute Releases Brief on School Governance

governance.brief.coverThe Cowen Institute has released a new report on the ever-evolving structure of public school governance in New Orleans, explaining what types of charter schools exist in the city and how schools changed between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. The policy brief is a primer on the decentralized governance structure of the city’s 82 public schools. The district has 75 charter schools, with the vast majority housed within the Recovery School District (RSD). Within the last year, the total number of RSD charters shrank by five schools, while another of the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (BESE) charter schools moved to New Orleans and the Orleans Parish School Board’s district grew by four charters. Download the brief here. Download just the governance charts here.

Cowen Institute Releases Brief on Common Core

common_core_coverCommon Core is at the forefront of contemporary education discussions in the United States. In the coming years, its adoption and implementation will be critical in defining what and how American students learn. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) raise K-12 academic benchmarks, thereby requiring schools and districts to adopt new curricula and state officials to seek new student assessments. While Louisiana originally adopted Common Core, its future in the state is in question. This brief clarifies what Common Core is, presents what it will mean for states, and discusses what its future looks like in Louisiana. Check out our new Common Core Site here. Read and download the report here. Download the infographic here. Watch the video below.

Cowen Institute Receives Grant for Youth Career Pathways

Working on Computer The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has selected the Cowen Institute at Tulane University to receive a two-year $200,000 grant to support the Institute’s work in connecting Opportunity Youth with career pathways through the cross-sector EMPLOY collaborative. The grant will also help fund the implementation of a shared data system for youth service providers. Opportunity Youth are young adults aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working. Read the release here.

Cowen Institute at Tulane University Announces New Executive Director

Amanda Headshot The Cowen Institute at Tulane University has hired Amanda Kruger Hill as its new executive director. Hill, a former high school principal who currently leads quality reviews of local schools and mentors principals through her work at New Schools for New Orleans, will assume the role of executive director at the Cowen Institute in mid-July.  Click here to read more about Cowen Institute’s new executive director.

The State of Public Education: Ten Years After Hurricane Katrina

SPENO-2015-CoverAnnually, The State of Public Education in New Orleans has served as the Institute’s flagship publication to inform the public, including parents, legislators, and city residents, about the impact the public education transformation has had on students, educators, and schools. This retrospective edition of the report includes data and analysis from the past ten years, providing historical context, as well as examination of the issues that will become crucial to address in the years to come. This year’s report can be found at and has special interactive features that can only be found online. We interviewed 16 influential leaders in public education – you can watch their interviews here. We also created an interactive historical timeline that documents the evolution of public education in New Orleans, which can be viewed here. Click here to read the report.

Issue Briefs: Investing in Opportunity

Issue.Brief.02.WIOA.CoverThe Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a new federal law that will provide more funding for job training and adult education could greatly benefit opportunity youth locally, according to a brief released today by the Cowen Institute in partnership with Baptist Community Ministries and the New Orleans Business Alliance. Opportunity Youth are young adults aged 16-24 who are neither in school nor working. This brief provides background on the law, highlights why it is important, explains how it will be implemented, and investigates its effectiveness. Click here to read the report.

K-12 Public Education through the Public’s Eye

 Since 2009, the Cowen Institute has conducted an annual poll to assess local public perception of the public education system in New Orleans. We have done so out of the belief that understanding how the public at-large, and parents in particular, view these changes is a crucial part of evaluating the effect these changes have had on parents, students, and the community as a whole. These perceptions will likely help shape how public education will continue to evolve in New Orleans. Click here to view the full poll, complete with analysis and take-aways. Click here to view the toplines and see just the poll results.

Issue Briefs: CMOs in New Orleans

poicy_brief_no1_coverAccording to a brief released today by the Cowen Institute at Tulane University, 60 percent of public charter schools in New Orleans are now part of a charter management organization (CMO). “This issue brief offers a unique analysis of the increasing prevalence of CMOs in New Orleans,” said Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy for the Cowen Institute. “The brief helps to highlight the benefits and drawbacks CMOs have for individual schools, students, parents, and administrators.” Click here to read the press release.

New Earn and Learn Promotional Video

Check out our new video promoting our Earn and Learn Career Pathways Program!

Reconnecting Opportunity Youth: Data Reference Guide

roy_data_guide_coverToday, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University released Reconnecting Opportunity Youth: Data Reference Guide. The report, authored by Senior Policy Analyst Patrick Sims, is a comprehensive examination of opportunity youth at the national, state, and metropolitan levels from a cost and demographic perspective. “This report provides a baseline for understanding who opportunity youth are both in New Orleans and nationally,” said Vincent Rossmeier, Director of Policy for the Cowen Institute. “Opportunity youth can truly be assets for their communities when they are reconnected to quality employment, educational, and training opportunities. Reconnection of this kind is the first step in ensuring opportunity youth persist on pathways to living-wage careers.” Click here to visit our library, which contains a complete listing of all Cowen Institute publications from 2007 to the present.

Interactive Governance & School Guide

The Cowen Institute has launched a new interactive tool to help families who are currently gathering information to complete school applications. Using the Cowen Institute Governance and School Guide, families can filter schools by performance, OneApp participation and geographic zones, grade levels, and by the mode of transportation offered. With the interactive map, families can determine how far a school is from their home and the length of commute by car, public transportation, bicycle, or on foot.

Click here for information on the Earn and Learn Career Pathways Program.