By the Numbers: High School Performance 2005 vs. 2014

p The state just released the 2014 ACT scores for public schools. Continuing our By the Numbers series, Educate Now! takes a look at high school performance.

ACT Performance

New Orleans has seen strong gains since 2005.

The growth in ACT scores comes even as the percentage of seniors taking the test has increased significantly. (The state now requires students to take the ACT as part of high school accountability; in 2005, students were not required to take the ACT.) Since 2005, as the percentage of seniors taking the ACT increased, New Orleans improved its composite score1 from 17 to 18.4, while the state declined from 19.8 to 19.2. Both RSD and OPSB have seen gains in their ACT scores2.

  • During this time (2005 to 2014), the RSD improved its ACT average by 2 points, more than any other district in the state. It is one of only 5 districts that improved more than 1 point during this time.
  • OPSB improved by 0.8 points.
ACT Scores Over Time
  Class of 2005 Class of 2014 Change
19.7 20.5 0.8
Schools transferred to RSD
14.4 16.4 2
New Orleans (OPSB + RSD)
17 18.4 1.4
19.8 19.2 – 0.6


If comparing performance, RSD schools serve a very different population than OPSB, with more African American students, more poor students, and more students with special needs. Some OPSB high schools have selective admissions, and only three of seven OPSB high schools participate in EnrollNOLA (OneApp). RSD data includes the alternative high schools in the city, and every RSD high school is open-admissions and participates in EnrollNOLA.

Class of 2014 ACT Test Takers
  % African American % Economically Disadvantaged % Special Education
76% 55% 5%
over 95% 77% 12%

TOPS Performance 

Citywide, TOPS eligibility has also increased.

The percentage of our graduates eligible for a TOPS scholarship increased from 25% in 2005 to 37% in 2014.The Louisiana TOPS scholarship program offers free in-state tuition to graduates with qualifying ACT scores, Grade Point Average (GPA), and the necessary academic credits.

TOPS Eligibility Over Time
  Class of 2005 Class of 2014 Change
57% 48% – 9 pts
Schools transferred to RSD
6% 24% 18 pts
New Orleans (OPSB + RSD)
25% 37% 12 pts
37% 45% 8 pts


  • To be eligible for a TOPS Tech 2-year scholarship, a graduate must score at least a 17 on the ACT and have a GPA of 2.5.
  • To be eligible for a 4-year TOPS academic scholarship, a graduate must score at least a 20 on the ACT and have a GPA of 2.5.

Graduation Rate

New Orleans’ graduation rate3 has increased dramatically while the annual drop out rate has plummeted.
Graduation and Drop Out Rates Over Time


Educate Now! echoes State Superintendent John White: We still have a long way to go, but the improvement has been enormous!

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Notes: 1   ACT composite scores are made up of the best score that each senior received, no matter when or how many times the student took the test. 2   In calculating the 2005 data, all high schools taken over by the Recovery School District are considered “RSD High Schools” for that year. OPSB schools were the five high schools that remained with the OPSB. 3   The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the percent of first-time 9th graders who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma. Students who enter 9th grade together for the first time form the cohort, which is then “adjusted” by adding any students who transfer into the cohort (through October 1 of the cohort’s junior year) and subtracting any students who transfer out, leave the state or country, or die. The graduation rate for that cohort is calculated by taking the number of students who graduate in four years and dividing that by the number of students in the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. By 2011, all but 3 states used this more rigorous calculation to measure graduation rates.


Edits: 2-9-15 Updated TOPS eligibility data using OSFA’s November 2014 report. (Original release included data from an incomplete August 2014 report.) Updated Individual High School Performance spreadsheet and added link to new report. Updated link to TOPS eligibility report under Resources to download the November 2014 TOPS report.

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