NOLA schools show dramatic improvement post-Katrina

June 17, 2015

Keith Brannon
Phone: 504-862-8789

Performance of New Orleans public schools and students has improved dramatically in the decade since Hurricane Katrina, according to the Cowen Institute at Tulane University’s 2015 State of Public Education in New Orleans (SPENO) report.

“We established the Cowen Institute in 2007 to provide unbiased analysis of this remaking of our schools,” said Scott Cowen, president emeritus of Tulane University and chair of the Institute’s advisory board. “Due to the relentless efforts of educators, policymakers and nonprofit leaders, our schools have shown marked academic improvement over the past decade. We can’t claim victory yet, but I remain encouraged by how far we’ve come.”

According to the report, student performance on standardized tests and the ACT, as well as graduation rates and college enrollment, have all increased. The percentage of New Orleans’ public school students who are enrolled in schools with a score higher than the state average has nearly doubled. Collectively, the city’s public schools have gone from failing to average performance since Katrina.

The SPENO report is the Cowen Institute’s flagship publication to inform the public, from parents to policymakers, about the effects of education reforms under way in New Orleans. In addition to sharing data and analysis related to school governance, enrollment, administration, and student achievement, the report includes a discussion of future issues and challenges facing schools and students. It also includes in-depth information related to school finances, facilities, choice, and teachers.

“Education is obviously crucial to the city’s future, and we hope this report helps anyone seeking to gain a better understanding of the profound changes within public education since Katrina,” said Patrick Sims, Cowen Institute senior policy analyst.

The report is available at, an interactive website that includes video interviews with education leaders and stakeholders. 

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000