The Louisiana Department of Education has released the class of 2018 results for the ACT. As part of Louisiana’s transition to higher expectations since 2013, all public high school students are required to take the ACT. Performance on this test is used to measure high school student achievement for grades 11 and 12. ACT scores account for 25% of the School Performance Score for high schools, along with WorkKeys assessment scores.
The average ACT composite score for the New Orleans class of 2018 is 18.6, an increase of 1.6 points since the 2005 average composite score of 17.0. This demonstrates a substantive increase in student performance, especially given the statewide shift in 2013 from college-bound student participation only to universal participation.
2018 ACT Scores Dip: In Line with State and National Trends
From 2013 – the first year when all Louisiana high school students were required to take the ACT – until 2017, the New Orleans average composite score steadily improved each year. With the class of 2018, student performance has dipped to a score of 18.6, compared to 19.0 in 2017. Statewide performance similarly dipped in 2018, from 19.6 to 19.3, after steady increases since 2013. And at the national level, the 2018 average composite score of 20.8 represents a decline as well, compared to 21.0 in 2017.
ACT performance this year points to the gaps that we know exist in the curriculum used in New Orleans schools. An NSNO analysis during the 2017-18 school year found that only 20% of high schools in the city were using math curriculum fully aligned to the state’s college- and career-ready academic standards. Research shows that the use of a high-quality, standards-aligned curriculum has an equal or greater effect on student achievement compared to teacher effectiveness. For these reasons, NSNO launched the Instructional Quality Initiative (IQI) at the beginning of 2018. In partnership with the Orleans Parish School Board and the Louisiana Department of Education, the IQI is providing funding and support to schools to transition to high-quality, aligned curriculum.
The IQI began its investments in high school this school year – educators from one third of New Orleans’ 25 high schools traveled in July to the UnboundEd Standards Institute, a national week-long training focused on developing a deep understanding and expertise in standards-aligned curriculum. In addition, the Agile Mind Curriculum Hub will be launched soon, providing a citywide professional learning community to support teachers and leaders at high schools implementing the high-quality Agile Mind math curriculum. The IQI will make even larger investments in high school curriculum next year, with the goal of 75% of New Orleans high schools using aligned ELA and math curriculum by fall 2020. We are confident that high schools that make the transition to successfully implement high-quality, aligned curriculum as part of the IQI will see gains in student progress in future years.
Celebrating Success Across New Orleans
For the sixth year in a row, African-American graduates at New Orleans high schools outperformed their peers across the state. In addition, the average ACT composite score for New Orleans graduates with disabilities increased from 14.7 in 2017 to 14.9 in 2018.
Congratulations to the following schools that achieved average ACT composite scores representing a college-going performance level and state scholarship eligibility. According to the Louisiana Department of Education, a composite score of 18 or above demonstrates the performance level at which students admitted to college are generally not required to retake high school courses. A composite score of 17 or above qualifies students for the Louisiana TOPS Tech Award, the state scholarship for post-secondary occupational and technical programs.
The New Orleans high schools that improved the most between 2017 and 2018 are Warren Easton Senior High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA).
Warren Easton Senior High, which is an open enrollment school, achieved an average ACT composite score of 19.1, up from 18.4 in 2017. The percentage of Warren Easton’s graduating class earning college-going scores of 18 or above increased from 62% to 71%. And the percentage earning scores above the national average – 21 or higher – increased by 12 percentage points, up to 31%.
The average ACT score at NOCCA, a selective admissions pre-professional arts school, increased by 1.8 points – from 22.9 in 2017 to 24.9 in 2018. Almost 100% of NOCCA’s graduating class earned college-going scores of 18 or above, up from 89% in 2017. The percentage of students scoring 21 or above also improved, with an increase of 9 percentage points from 75% in 2017 to 84% in 2018.
Congratulations to Warren Easton and NOCCA!
Individual School Results: ACT Composite Scores, Class of 2018
*Selective admissions school
For more information about 2018 ACT results, please refer to the following documents released by the Louisiana Department of Education: