Beating the Odds


Today, the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives released its research report, Beating the Odds: Academic Performance and Vulnerable Student Populations in New Orleans High Schools. The report reveals that many public high schools in New Orleans, especially those that serve the highest percentages of vulnerable students, are beating the odds and performing better than predicted, given the characteristics of their student populations.

Click here to find a brief interactive overview or to read and download the full report.

Tulane University, one of the nation’s most prestigious research universities and the largest employer in New Orleans, is taking a leadership role in the process of transforming K-12 public education in the city. The Cowen Institute, which opened its doors in March 2007, is an action-oriented think tank that informs and advances solutions – through policies, programs, and partnerships – to eliminate the challenges impeding the success of K-12 education in New Orleans and beyond. By leveraging Tulane’s human, intellectual, political, financial, and social capital, we are pioneering a new role for major research universities to interact with K-12 public education systems in their respective communities. Our work is focused in the following areas: Applied Research, Public Policy, Reconnecting Opportunity Youth, and College Readiness Programs.

The Latest from the Cowen Institute

The 2014 State of Public Education in New Orleans

SPENO CoverThis year, we have two versions of the report: a downloadable PDF and a website with interactive maps, charts, and data. Download, read, and interact with the report at

Since the Cowen Institute opened its doors at Tulane University in 2007, we have published an annual State of Public Education in New Orleans report to provide an ongoing chronicle and assessment of the reform efforts. The report is designed to help policymakers, educators, and citizens understand how public schools in New Orleans have progressed over time and also how they compare to schools around Louisiana and the United States.

Voters’ Perceptions of Public Education in New Orleans, Spring 2014

PG 1 Image The Cowen Institute is pleased to release its fifth poll gauging opinions of public education in New Orleans. The May 2014 poll asked respondents about their general satisfaction with public education and opinions on taxes, governance, school choice, common standards and tests, and college and career readiness. Click here for the report and the poll results.

NOLA by the Numbers: LEAP & iLEAP Test Results, 2014

annual report.2013_Page_01The latest report from the Cowen Institute analyzes the 2014 LEAP and iLEAP test scores for 3rd-8th graders. The report looks at school results over time, the number of students who are well-prepared for the next grade-level, and how scores vary by grade and subject. Click here to read the report, explore a map, and interact with the data.

High School Disconnection: Insights from the Inside

annual report.2013_Page_01The Cowen Institute is pleased to release High School Disconnection: Insights from the Inside, which explores the causes of high school disconnection and potential solutions to address it. The study uses information gathered in interviews with high school administrators and staff, leaders of supporting youth development intermediaries, as well as focus groups with youth, to understand the root causes of youth disconnection and current practices and interventions targeting dropout prevention in New Orleans. The discussions center around the issues of academic preparation, school culture, building relevant and rigorous curricula, and relationships with adult mentors and peers. Click here to read the report, explore a map, and interact with the data.

NOLA by the Numbers: Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Eligibility, Feb. 2014

annual report.2013_Page_01The Cowen Institute is pleased to release its latest NOLA by the Numbers, which analyzes student free and reduced-price lunch eligibility in New Orleans public schools based on February 2014 data. The report looks at this data relative to school performance and compares New Orleans’ rate to other major U.S. cities. Click here to read the report, explore a map, and interact with the data.

Road Map to Success: FAFSA Completion in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Nation

annual report.2013_Page_01The Cowen Institute is pleased to introduce Road Map to Success, a new series that will assist practitioners by providing data driven analysis and highlighting some best practices. The first installment, FAFSA Completion in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Nation, analyzes data on FAFSA completion and offers strategies for how all schools can connect their students to student aid, grants, and scholarships. Click here to read the report, explore maps of completion rates by parish and state, and interact with the data.

Career Day of Action 2014

CDA2014 PicOn March 21, 2014, the Cowen Institute hosted the first annual Cowen Institute Career Day of Action. Keeping with our mission to advance the success of New Orleans children on their educational pathways, the College and Career Readiness team provides direct services to prepare and connect New Orleans youth to college and careers through a broad spectrum of initiatives. Click here to read more.


From President Emeritus Scott Cowen

From being ranked one of the worst school districts in the country, New Orleans has responded with a new philosophy that empowers schools to be the centerpiece for transformation and holds them accountable. Through the work of the Cowen Institute, Tulane’s commitment to improving the educational opportunities for every child in the city has become a reality.