All students deserve schools and policies that set high expectations for their academic progress.  PARCC assessments administered this spring to 3rd – 8th graders put this commitment into practice in Louisiana. The results from these initial tests mark the beginning of a new phase in the collective work to make New Orleans the country’s first excellent public school system.

We wanted to share three thoughts after closely reviewing preliminary Math and English Language Arts (ELA) data released last week by LDOE:

New Orleans schools held their own on more rigorous tests.

NSNO estimated the Assessment Index (AI) for each district, a core metric that gives credit for the number of students scoring at Advanced, Mastery, and Basic levels on state tests. For elementary and middle schools, AI accounts for nearly all of a school’s letter grade—a key piece of information for parents and families. We found:

In English Language Arts, the citywide Assessment Index placed us 47th out of 69 districts in Louisiana—no change in ranking from 2013-14. New Orleans’ ELA Assessment Index rose from 70.6 to 72.3 (on a 0-150 scale), with RSD charter schools driving much of the progress.

In Math, the citywide Assessment Index placed us 44th out of 69 districts in Louisiana—again, no change in ranking from 2013-14. On a 150 point scale, the AI dropped from 75.1 to 62.5. In line with statewide results, fewer students demonstrated basic proficiency on the difficult Math exam.

In short, we maintained our position relative to other Louisiana districts in both ELA and Math. Teachers and students will become more familiar with the challenges that these more rigorous standards present and we can begin to measure our progress from this new benchmark.

Multistate comparisons will offer novel insights into New Orleans performance.

Perhaps more important than seeing how we stack up against our home state is the opportunity in the coming months and years to compare New Orleans’ results to states and districts across the country. BESE’s courageous vote earlier this month to set performance levels in concert with other PARCC states (10, plus Washington, D.C.) makes this analysis possible.

We know our city’s students can stand toe-to-toe with their peers across the country. Valid, comparable data that accurately measures what students have learned is a necessary component in realizing that vision.

Our students and educators will rise to the challenge—just as they have on the ACT.

With the right supports, students will meet the expectations that adults set for them.

We can be confident that New Orleans will rise to the challenge because our students and educators have done so before. Three years ago, the state mandated that all high school students begin taking the ACT. Like PARCC, ACT is nationally-comparable. Today, Louisiana leads the country in ACT growth among states that require the exam for all students, and New Orleans students have been an engine for statewide growth by improving their composite score by nearly two full points over the last decade.


NSNO is energized by the challenge of creating a public school system that helps all students meet high expectations. From here, New Orleans can dive headlong into another decade of work that brings us closer to our shared goal of excellent schools for all children. 

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