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.

2014 Grade
2015 Grade
Edna Karr Secondary School
International High School
Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School
KIPP Renaissance High School
Lake Area New Tech Early College High School
New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy
Sci Academy
Warren Easton

Significant Changes in Five Years

In 2010, 8% of New Orleans high schools achieved an A or B rating. And 38% of high schools were failing. Our city’s high schools were still a mess.

Just five years later, and we’ve seen dramatic improvement. Fifty percent of New Orleans high schools now achieve an A or a B rating. And, save for two small alternative programs serving students who need a different setting or who have been expelled from other schools, the city is home to no other failing high schools.

High Schools by Letter Grade2

What does this mean for our students?

New Orleans schools have the 12th highest poverty rate in the state, but our high schools are now performing very close to the state average, which means we are outperforming many districts that enroll fewer poor students.

Economically disadvantaged students generally enter school already behind their peers and often without the family and community supports to help them. Studies have shown these students have vocabulary deficits, behavioral challenges, lack of health care, etc. If a student enters school behind, and every year a school provides the equivalent of a year of learning, that student will leave school still behind.

Schools servings poor students are asked to do more. They are asked to catch these students up, and our schools are succeeding.

Both CREDO and the Education Research Alliance (ERA) at Tulane University have found that New Orleans schools are having large positive effects on student learning. ERA Director Doug Harris wrote. “We are not aware of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short time.”

We see the cumulative evidence of this positive effect in high school performance scores and letter grades, and these gains translate to dramatic improvements in outcomes and opportunities for New Orleans students:

  • Graduation Rates:
    • 73% of students graduate in four years and 76% graduate in five years. Our five year graduation rate is higher than the state’s.
  • ACT Scores:
    • 38% percent of seniors achieved a score of 20, the minimum score to be eligible for four-year TOPS scholarships.
    • Our ACT composite score for Black students of 17.8 exceeds the national ACT composite score for Black students of 16.9.
  • Enrolling in College:
    • More New Orleans students are going to college than ever before – 59% of graduates in 2014, the same as the state average.
  • Earning TOPS Scholarships:
    • In 2015, 46% of graduates were eligible for a TOPS two- or four-year college scholarship, up from 29% in 2010.3

In short, better high school opportunities are leading to better prepared students – students who are attending college at the highest rates that the city has seen in decades.

That being said, much work still needs to be done. Our students need to do more than just attend college. They need to graduate. And they need to get good jobs.

2015 School Performance Scores

Below are School Performance Scores and letter grades for 17 New Orleans high schools with grades 9-12. Next month, the state will release the School Performance Scores and Letter Grades for the 5 “combination schools” schools that have at least one high school grade and one K-8 grade. The “combination schools” in New Orleans are: Lusher, Cohen College Prep, McMain, Sophie B. Wright and Martin Luther King, Jr.

2015 Grade 2015 SPS 2014 Grade 2014 SPS
Benjamin Franklin High School (Selective) A
A 140.1
Edna Karr High School A 111.1 B 96.7
Warren Easton Senior High School A 109.2 B 96.2
New Orleans Military/Maritime Academy A 103.2 C 83
N.O. Charter Science and Mathematics HS B 98.6 B 94.3
KIPP Renaissance High School B 96.8 D 61
Sci Academy B 96.3 C 79.8
International High School of New Orleans B 85.6 C 83.6
Lake Area New Tech Early College HS C 79.4 D 64.5
G. W. Carver Collegiate Academy C 73.6 C 70.6
McDonogh #35 College Preparatory School C 70.2 C 79.4
Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School D 62.4 F 45.4
Lord Beaconsfield Landry-Oliver Perry Walker HS D 61.4 B 89.7
G. W. Carver Preparatory Academy D 59.1 C 80.6
Algiers Technology Academy D 54.5 D 51.7
The NET Charter High School (Alternative) F 25.7 F 22.2
ReNEW Accelerated – West Bank (Alternative) F 18.9 F 21.9

For more information:

Download the detailed 2015 School Performance Scores spreadsheet (xlsx) for New Orleans schools.
View the press release and presentation from the Louisiana Department of Education.
View the joint press release from RSD and OPSB.


1.  The state did not release scores for “combination schools,” schools that have at least one high school grade and one K-8 grade. These scores will be released in December with the rest of the K-8 scores.  New Orleans has five combination high schools: Lusher, Martin Luther King, Cohen College Prep, McMain and Sophie B. Wright.
2.  In 2010, schools were given stars (1 to 5) not letter grades; for the purpose of comparison, 4 and 5 stars = A; 3 = B; 2 = C; 1 = D; and “Academically Unacceptable” = F. The 2014 letter grades for the five “combination schools” were 1 A, 2 Bs and 2 Cs. Educate Now! predicts 2015 letter grades for these five schools will have the same distribution.

3.  Source: Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance 2015 TOPS Report.