Surveying the Public High School Landscape in New Orleans
The Scott S. Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives at Tulane University
October 2010


Public education in New Orleans has come a long way in the past five years: the city’s public schools collectively have seen an increase of over 32 percent in their school performance scores and the percent of failing schools has been cut in half. The percentage of high schools that are deemed failing has decreased from 71 percent in 2005 to 42 percent in 2010. The fact is that there are far too many high school students in failing schools.

Today, a variety of governing bodies run public high schools in New Orleans. Academic achievement, as indicated on a number of metrics, varies widely from operator to operator and from school to school. As before the storm, there exists a distinct difference between a few high performing schools and those that continue to struggle. Most high schools, especially the lowest performing ones, have demonstrated significant academic gains in the past few years. Yet, graduation rates, the percentage of students passing graduate exit exams, and the state-determined School Performance Scores indicate that public high schools in New Orleans have much work to do to improve outcomes for all students.

In this brief, the Cowen Institute looks at various academic performance indicators, as well as examines the changes in student performance for schools that have been open for at least three years post-Hurricane Katrina. In addition, we provide a number of college readiness indicators for each school. The goal of this publication is not to suggest reasons why schools are performing at the levels they are, but rather to present a detailed assessment of the current state of public high schools in New Orleans and the extent to which they are preparing our students for college and careers. It is our hope that Surveying the Public High School Landscape in New Orleans will serve as a tool for education leaders, policy makers, students and their parents, community members, and other stakeholders to evaluate the performance of high schools in the city today.

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