A new study from the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans (ERA-NO) shows significant improvement in school quality since education reforms began, as well as an increase in diversity of school and extracurricular options.
The quality of New Orleans’ public schools has improved since the reforms.
ERA-NO measured school quality between 2002 and 2016 using student academic growth, or how much each student’s test scores increased from year to year at a given school.
By this measure, average school quality increased significantly from when the reforms began in 2005 until 2014. Almost all of this improvement has been the result of closing or transforming low-performing schools and opening new, higher-performing schools.
From 2014-2016, average school quality plateaued. By NSNO’s analysis, this coincided with schools adjusting to the increased rigor of statewide academic standards and assessments.
More students have had access to higher-quality schools over time. ERA-NO found less variation in school quality between 2008 and 2016 while finding that average school quality increased.
The number of extracurricular activities in New Orleans’ schools has also increased during this period.
Because test scores are only one measure of a school’s quality or success, ERA-NO also studied the range of New Orleans’ school options in terms of curricular models and extracurricular activities over time.
Across all grade levels, the average number of extracurricular activities offered has increased. In particular, a significant increase was seen at the elementary and middle school levels in the availability of band and football. At the high school level, the average number of extracurricular options tripled between 2011 and 2017.