Sometimes it seems good news about academic achievement in Louisiana can be hard to come by. But the truth is, Louisiana students have shown significant progress over the last two decades and some recently released data reiterate what we should already know – that when it comes to the state education policies that we have enacted over the last several years, we’re on the right track.
The state Department of Education reported just a few days ago that in 2018, Louisiana’s graduation rate rose to its highest level ever, 81.4-percent. That’s the first time it has ever been more than 80-percent and it reflects a nearly 10-percentage point increase over just the last six years.
What’s more, again for the first time, Louisiana’s African-American graduation rate is higher than the national average and economically disadvantaged groups across the spectrum are also seeing gains. As a further result of this we are seeing more students graduating who are TOPS eligible and more students leaving high school with either a high-quality Industry-Based Credential or college credit.
Given that, it’s not surprising that the number of Louisiana graduates enrolling in college has hit an all-time high of more than 25,000. Equally encouraging is that we are seeing similar progress in our historically disadvantaged communities including students of color, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities.
This comes on the heels of another recent report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University which looked at the academic performance of students in 10 cities from 2015-2017. New Orleans, with its vast array of charter schools and school choice options, was one of them. The findings are remarkable.
They show that during the three years of the study, the growth in performance of students in New Orleans public schools exceeded the state average in both reading and math with the exception of one year where growth in math growth was about the same. Virtually all of the public schools in New Orleans are charter schools.
African-American students, students in poverty, and students receiving special education services all exceeded the average growth statewide. And it’s important to note that New Orleans schools have a significantly higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students than the state as a whole.
Before Katrina and the state-led transformation of public schools in New Orleans, results like these would have been unthinkable.
All of this tells us a couple of things. One is that the education policies Louisiana has put in place over the last two decades are working and we are seeing results. Another is that the state’s hard-working teachers and principals have embraced these policies and in doing so they are moving our students to higher levels of achievement.
Certainly, Louisiana still faces many education challenges. Yet, whether we realize it or not, our state is seen by many in education circles as a national leader in forward-looking policies that focus on improving outcomes for our students. These results, and others like them, should reassure us all that we are indeed moving in the right direction.
RESET Louisiana’s Future
CABL is working with the Public Affairs Research Council and the Committee of 100 for Economic Development on an election initiative called RESET Louisiana’s Future. It focuses on four major policy areas including public education. You can find out more about Louisiana’s strong education policies in our K-12 Policy Briefing or explore other issues in the agenda on the website at www.reset-louisiana.com. While there you can also find updates and subscribe to our newsletter for additional information.