On November 16, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released 2021-2022 School Performance Scores (SPS). Seventy-nine percent of New Orleans Public Schools earned an A or B letter grade for their academic progress, and the system at large maintained a C letter grade overall.

New Orleans’ students and educators are working hard and learning each day amidst significant challenges. 86% of our students are economically disadvantaged, and the challenges of poverty, coupled with the trauma and learning loss of the pandemic and Hurricane Ida, present obstacles to academic success. 

Hurricane Ida caused all New Orleans schools to be closed for a minimum of two and a half weeks early in the school year, and displaced many families for even longer periods of time. In addition, COVID-19 quarantines resulted in frequent transitions between in-person and virtual learning that led to a decrease in attendance.

Despite these challenges, New Orleans schools have made up significant ground lost during the pandemic. Today, we’ll share a closer look at some important data from the School Performance Scores that can help us understand how our students fared. 

The School Performance Scores provide a measurement of student academic outcomes by combining a number of different metrics. 

LDOE’s graphics demonstrating SPS components

Because there are so many different data points within the SPS, we find it helpful to look individually at two pieces of data reflected in the SPS in order to make comparisons at the district- and school-level and answer the following questions:

  • How are students performing today?
  • Which trajectory are students on for future performance?

To answer these two questions, we look at the “Assessment Index” and “Top Growth.”

How are Students Performing Today?

The assessment index shows us how students are scoring on state assessments in all grades and subjects each year. In 2018-19, Orleans Parish earned a “D” Assessment Index with a score of 50.9. After dropping more than 13 points due to the impact of the pandemic in 2021, New Orleans’ schools made up 5 points of lost ground in 2022 to earn a 42.7 Assessment Index, narrowing the gap between New Orleans’ Assessment Index and the statewide average. 

The improvement in Assessment Index in the past year is encouraging progress. If our schools sustain the same pace of growth, our district will surpass our pre-pandemic Assessment Index after next school year.

The Assessment Index in Orleans Parish

Overall Assessment Index (AI) for K-12 Schools in Orleans Parish, 2019-2022  

What Trajectory are Students on for Future Performance? 

Top Growth is reported by LDOE each year and shows us the percentage of our students who are on track to reach Mastery or Advanced on state tests and/or are outperforming most peers with similar characteristics (like race or socioeconomic status) statewide. This provides a helpful way to think about whether students are on track to improve their scores (as reflected by the Assessment Index) in future years.

In New Orleans, the challenges students face mean that Top Growth and other measures of student progress can often give us more information about the success of our schools or our district than the Assessment Index alone. While the Assessment Index is a snapshot in time of what a child knows, Top Growth helps us see how a school has helped them grow, even if they arrived at school far behind. This is especially true given the challenges of the pandemic and Hurricane Ida and their disproportionate impact on students of color and students in poverty.

Overall, Orleans Parish earned a Top Growth percentage of 46% in 2022, up two percentage points from 2021. This means that nearly 1 out of every 2 students taking LEAP 2025 tests in Orleans Parish are on track to Mastery and/or are outperforming most similar students across the state.

Orleans Parish’s Top Growth percentage for students who are Black, economically disadvantaged, or students with disabilities, surpasses the state and similarly-sized parishes.  

Top Growth in Orleans Parish   

Top Growth Percentage for 2022, ELA & Math Combined

We know that SPS is just one way to measure a school’s success. There are so many aspects of what makes a school great that aren’t included in these metrics. We also know that every day in our schools and our classrooms, students are making meaningful progress. They are on the right track, and we are proud to celebrate their hard work.

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