Look How Far We’ve Come: OPSB Approves School Unification Plan

“Just Think How Far We’ve Come”

Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr., August 29, 2016

The Orleans Parish School Board unanimously approved a Unification Plan outlining the return of schools to the elected board. 

With the adoption of this plan, the school board has embraced a shared vision for the unified school district that builds upon the changes since Katrina and commits to continuing improvement.

The Vision

A locally elected school board will govern a system of schools in a district that is over 90% charter schools, provides school choice for all families, and expressly commits to ensuring equity and recognizing the need for differentiated resources based on student need.

A slide from the superintendent’s presentation to the school board captures this vision:  


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K-8 Student Performance Improves

The state has released the results for the 2015-16 LEAP tests for grades 3-8. This is the second year of new tests aligned to more rigorous standards. 

How Did New Orleans Do?

  • New Orleans student performance improved, but lagged the state.
  • New Orleans outperformed the state average for African-American students and English Language Learners.

Performance: All Students

  • The percentage of New Orleans students reaching the state’s new proficiency goal of Mastery or above grew from 28% to 31%, a gain of 3 points; the state improved by 5 points. 
  • The percentage of New Orleans students performing Basic or above grew from 60% to 61%, a gain of 1 point; the state improved by 2 points.

Gains in LEAP Performance in English and Math


These results are for English and math only. To view all subjects, view the state’s 2016 Tests by District Report.

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High School Performance: ACT and EOC Test Results

The state has released ACT and End of Course Test results for 2015-16. The results are disappointing and mark a pause in the steady progress we’ve made toward closing the gap with the state average.

  • The average ACT Composite score for New Orleans (OPSB + RSD) remained flat at 18.8, while the state average improved slightly from 19.4 to 19.5. New Orleans’ district rank fell from 36th to 37th out of 69 parishes.
  • The percent of students scoring 20 or higher on the ACT (a requirement for TOPS 4-year scholarships) fell from 38% to 35%. The state average remained flat at 45%.
  • The percent of students scoring Excellent or Good on End of Course Tests (EOCs), fell from 61% to 58%. The state average remained flat at 62%.

The good news:

  • New Orleans outperformed most other high-poverty districts (more than 75% economically disadvantaged students) on both the ACT and EOCs. Looking at the percent of seniors scoring 18 or higher on the ACT, only three high-poverty districts performed better than New Orleans – St. Bernard, Jefferson and Catahoula. Looking at the percent scoring Excellent or Good on the EOCs, only 2 high-poverty districts performed better – St. Bernard and Jefferson.
  • Black students in New Orleans outperformed the national and state averages for black students, with a local ACT Composite score of 17.8, compared to 17.1 nationally1 and 17.4 for the state.

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More students graduating on time!

New Orleans 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Continues to Rise

The citywide 4-year graduation rate for New Orleans (OPSB+RSD) increased by 2.5 percentage points, bringing it to 75.2% of all students graduating on time.
Today, the state released the 4-year cohort graduation rates for the Class of 2015. The Class of 2015 cohort includes all students who entered 9th grade for the first time in 2011, and the cohort graduation rate is the percentage of students in the cohort who graduated within four years. 

New Orleans Outperforms the State in Every Key Sub-Group

In 2015, 73.3% of African-American students graduated on time in New Orleans, an increase of 2.6 percentage points from 2014 and 1.9 points higher than the state average of 71.4% for African-American students. 
The New Orleans 4-year cohort graduation rates for other key sub-groups – students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners – were also higher than the state average for these sub-groups.

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By the Numbers: 2015 TOPS Scholarships

New Orleans high schools rocked it!

TOPS data for the class of 2015 shows 10% more high school graduates were eligible for TOPS college scholarships last year, and New Orleans is rapidly closing the gap with the state.

Gains in TOPS Eligibility

In five years, New Orleans closed the gap to the state average to a mere three points! 

Since 2010, the percentage of public high school graduates eligible for TOPS two-year or four-year scholarships increased 18 points, from 29% to 47%. The state increased 9 points, from 41% to 50%.

Eligible for TOPS
New Orleans
+ 18 pts
+ 9 pts

Gains in Eligibility for TOPS 4-year Scholarships

Since 2010, the percentage of public high school graduates eligible for 4-year TOPS scholarships increased 15 points, from 19% to 34%. The state increased 7 points, from 31% to 38%.

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K-8 School Performance Scores Released

The state has released the 2015 School Performance Scores (SPS) and School Letter Grades for elementary schools, middle schools, and combination schools (high schools with a K-8 grade). These scores are based on the more rigorous standards and PARCC test for grades 3-8 in English and math and represent a new baseline score for schools.

So … How did we do?

  • Even with harder tests and tougher academic standards, New Orleans kept pace with the state and is performing well when compared to other high poverty districts in the state.
  • More students are attending A, B, or C graded schools and fewer attend D or F schools.
  • Many elementary and middle schools across the state struggled with the new standards, and schools in New Orleans were no exception. More than half of the city’s elementary and middle schools saw a decrease in their SPS, and more than 20% went down at least one letter grade.

New Orleans Kept Pace with the State

The District Performance Score is the most comprehensive measurement of school and student performance. It includes all students (including students that attended schools now closed), all tests, and all grades. The DPS for New Orleans includes all RSD and OPSB schools, both charter and direct-run. It does not include Type 2 charters.

  • The District Performance Score for New Orleans remained the same as last year – 83.4, a high C just 1.6 points from a B. Louisiana’s statewide score decreased from 89.2 to 88.8, remaining a B.

View 2015 District Performance Scores (xlsx).

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High School Performance – A WOW Moment!

New Orleans high schools are (finally) showing great improvement.

The state released Letter Grades and School Performance Scores (SPS) for most high schools1, and there is cause for celebration!


  • More than half of New Orleans high schools earned a letter grade of A or B. Five years ago, only two high schools had an A or B letter grades and both were selective admission schools (Ben Franklin and Lusher).
  • New Orleans schools outperform other high-poverty high schools in Louisiana. Among schools statewide serving student populations where three-quarters or more of students are economically disadvantaged, New Orleans has the top 5 performing schools.
2015 Grade
Edna Karr A 111.1
Warren Easton A 109.2
Sci High B 98.6
KIPP Renaissance B 96.8
Sci Academy B 96.3
  • Four high schools were among the top 10 most improved in the state: KIPP Renaissance, Clark Prep, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy, and Sci Academy.
  • Eight high schools improved enough to change their letter grade.

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PARCC Results: A New Baseline

The state has released the 2014-15 PARCC test results for English and math, grades 3-8.

How did New Orleans do?

  • 60% of students scored Proficient (Basic or above); the state was 65%.
  • 28% of students scored Mastery or above; the state was 33%.

Compared to other districts?

  • New Orleans is ranked 45th out of 69 districts for percent Mastery or above.
  • We outperformed 21 districts, and tied with three others.
  • We held steady. Last year we ranked 46th; this year we ranked 45th.

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2015 EOC Results – New Orleans ties the state!

New Orleans high school performance on End-of-Course tests (EOCs) continues to improve.
  • New Orleans citywide, including Type 2 charters, is now performing at the state average.
  • New Orleans is the 5th most improved district in the state.
  • OPSB and RSD-NO combined is in the top 50% statewide and is ranked of #31 out of 69 parishes. This is the first academic ranking where New Orleans is in the top half of the state!
Percent Proficient on EOCs
* Includes all New Orleans Schools – OPSB, RSD-NO, and two Type 2 charters.

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By the Numbers: Student and School Performance

This fall, Louisiana’s Department of Education will release new baseline scores for schools and for student performance. As we move to the new academic standards, Educate Now! will no longer use 2005 as a comparison point. Instead, our new baseline will be the 2014-15 school year.

It’s time to focus on what’s next for New Orleans public schools, but before we move on, Educate Now! wants to thank the educators, administrators and volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the past decade to help our students succeed.

Ten years after Katrina, here’s how New Orleans public schools have changed.


The percentage of students enrolled in failing schools fell from 62% to 6%. The percentage enrolled in A or B schools increased from 13% to 37%.1
The percentage of students proficient on state tests increased from 25% to 62%.
aen-performance-all-students-072715 no header
The percentage of Black students proficient on state tests increased from 21% to 59%, and we now outperform the state by 5 percentage points.


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