The Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives

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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, Civic Engagement, and College Readiness Programs.


The Latest from the Cowen Institute

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.

NOLA by the Numbers October Enrollment

annual report.2013_Page_01The 2013 October Enrollment NOLA by the Numbers found interesting patterns in school diversity and the growing influence of Charter Management Organization (CMO) networks. Click here to read the report, explore the map of schools based on their racial/ethnic diversity, and interact with the data.

2013 Annual Report

annual report.2013_Page_01The 2013 Annual Report highlights examples of our work and our upcoming efforts. Click here to download the report.

NOLA by the Numbers: School Performance Scores, 2013 (November 2013)

More students in New Orleans attend A, B, or C schools than before Hurricane Katrina. In 2013, 68 percent of public school students attended A, B, or C schools in Orleans Parish compared to only 17 percent in 2005, narrowing the gap between New Orleans and the state from 32 to 9 percentage points. NOLA by the Numbers: School Performance Scores, 2013 analyzes the 2012-13 School Performance Scores for public schools in New Orleans with specific attention to changes in school performance over time and changes to the formula. Click here for all reports in the NOLA by the Numbers series.

Thinking Anew: A Strategic Plan for the Cowen Institute

Cowen Strategic Plan web 091913_Page_01In the next three years, the Cowen Institute will grow to be a top-tier center for research and development in public education and youth programming. We will advance the success of New Orleans children and young adults on their educational pathways, through research, policy analysis, and programs that support youth. With Tulane University faculty, we will be a national leader in university-based support for educational entrepreneurialism. In 2015, one decade after the catastrophe that dramatically changed public education in New Orleans, we will powerfully share the state of post-Katrina education—both shortcomings and progress made—with our city and the nation. Thinking Anew: A Strategic Plan for the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University, 2013-2016 reflects on our past, defines our charge, and envisions our future.

State of Public Education In New Orleans (July 2013)

2013 SPENO CoverThe 2012-13 school year marks the seventh full school year since the dramatic transformation of the public school system in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding. Though policies and structures continually evolve, the overarching reform mechanisms of school autonomy, parental choice, and accountability delineate the unique public education model in New Orleans. Reflecting on the past school year, the 2013 State of Public Education in New Orleans report provides information about the system of schools based on available quantitative data, media coverage, and conversations with school and district leaders. The report also offers important examples of successes as well as key challenges that still face public education in New Orleans. Click here to find the report and a Powerpoint presentation.

New Orleans Public School Facilities Update: June 2013

Facilities Update.07.03.13 image_Page_01The New Orleans Public School Facilities UpdateJune 2013 provides an account of the progress underway in re-building, renovating, and refurbishing public school facilities in the city, where 80 percent of the city was flooded and most of our school buildings damaged or destroyed in 2005. This report updates costs, budgets, and anticipated funding for the remainder of the work in the School Facilities Master Plan (SFMP). The purpose is to give the community a current look at the accomplishments and challenges that still face New Orleans in this colossal and crucial public works project.

K-12 Public Education through the Public’s Eye: Voters’ Perception of Public Education (April 2013)

Our recent poll, K-12 Public Education through the Public’s Eye: Voters’ Perception of Public Education, surveyed New Orleans’ voters’ opinions of the city’s public school system on a number of subjects, such as their confidence in the Orleans Parish School Board, what should be done about failing schools, and the impacts of school choice.

Spotlight on Choice: Parent Opinions on School Selection in New Orleans (January 2013)

Spotlight cover - final_Page_1In a series of focus groups on schools choice, the Cowen Institute collected feedback on the school selection process from over 80 families with school-age children in New Orleans. Our January 2013 report, Spotlight on Choice: Parent Opinions on School Selection, evaluates the effectiveness of school choice as a successful reform strategy. Based on the focus group discussions, we conclude that, due to limited seats at high quality schools and a complicated application process, school choice in New Orleans currently does an inadequate job providing all parents with access to the best schools for their children. Click here to download the report.


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From President 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.

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