Yesterday, the Louisiana Department of Education published this year’s college-going rates across the state. Congratulations are in order; New Orleans has climbed in the statewide rankings, moving up eight spots from last year. In 2017, roughly 61% of New Orleans’ high school graduates were enrolled in college the first fall after graduation, compared to roughly 58% for Louisiana at large. Last year, New Orleans had the 26th highest college-going rate across sixty nine school systems—in this year’s report, we have moved up to 18th.
Concretely, this means more than one hundred graduating seniors are attending college in the fall than last year. While we continue to strive to raise this number, we are proud of the success it represents.
We want to congratulate our New Orleans high schools. Below is the rank order of the percentage of graduates who enrolled in college in the fall of 2017:
As we revisit our past, we see more dramatic growth.
In 2004, New Orleans’ college-going rate was below the state average. By 2012, it had risen above the state, and today, it pulls even further ahead. Our students have made major gains, from 37% of the city’s seniors enrolling in college in 2004 to 61% today. Since 2012, we have seen a 14% gain.
It is important to examine the cause of this increase so we can accelerate it going forward. In the Louisiana Department of Education’s recent release, they note factors that may have contributed to the increase; a rise in ACT access, more students taking AP classes and participating in career and technical education all may have impacted this year’s college-going rate.
High schools must continue to adapt to ensure even more students leave high school academically, socially, and emotionally ready for college. They should also work to match students to the best post-secondary option for them, and continue to be a resource after graduation.
The progress is undeniable, but we know that getting to college is only part of the journey. Students must also be prepared and supported in making it through college to graduation. Persistence is key.
As we look toward next steps in New Orleans, we must work to increase our students’ college-going rate and the college graduation rate alike. At NSNO, we will continue to collaborate with the schools, students and families, and our partners on the hard work it takes to get there.
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