New Orleans

In 2017, Stanford researchers analyzed school district academic growth from 2009-2015. They examined 11,000 districts. New Orleans ranked 7th out of the top 200 large urban districts. It was the only city in the top 10 to serve a majority African-American student body.

New Orleans was the second lowest-performing school district in Louisiana and plagued by mismanagement.

Math and Reading scores in New Orleans ranked

And in 2003 the city had a graduation rate of only 54%.

State leaders implemented sweeping reforms


Government leaders gave power back to educators, significantly increasing the number of schools operated by non-profit organizations. This freed educators to build schools that could flexibly meet the needs of their students.


The city adopted an online, unified enrollment system that gave all families equitable access to public schools across the city.


New Orleans implemented an accountability system that helped city leaders to identify high-performing schools for expansion and selectively transform low-performing schools.

We are not aware of any other districts that have made such large improvements in such a short time.”

Doug Harris
Tulane Researcher

New Orleans students used to perform much worse than the rest of Louisiana. Just six years after Hurricane Katrina, this gap was nearly eliminated.

State Average Test Scores

Post-secondary outcomes are also on the rise

High school graduation rates




point increase

College entry rates




point increase

In 2017, Stanford researchers studied the academic growth of 11,000 school districts.

New Orleans ranked
of the top 200 large urban school districts

Of the top ten cities, it is the only city that serves a majority African-American student body.

A separate study released in 2019 by Stanford researchers found that New Orleans students continue to outpace similar students across the state. In most cities, education gains are short-lived. In New Orleans, over ten years after the reforms began, the system continues to improve.

But the work isn’t done. Over the coming years it will be vital to ensure that the academic gains seen in New Orleans lead to good jobs and expanded opportunity.

Learn about how New Orleans charter schools collaborated to reopen schools during the pandemic