Today, the Orleans Parish School Board and Recovery School District released the 4-year graduation rates for our city. The rate of students graduating with their peers is just one marker of a district’s success, but it is the most fundamental indicator of student readiness for college or a career and a gateway to future opportunity. As the year comes to a close, congratulations are in order for all our city’s graduates, as well as for the dedicated educators that saw them through this journey.
Despite this cause for celebration, improvement is needed. This year’s overall citywide 4-year graduation rate was .7 percentage points above last year’s and relatively static since 2013. If we can increase our graduation rate from 54% in 2005 to 72.8% today, there is no reason we cannot see significant improvements in the years to come.
We already have multiple schools in the city that graduate nearly all of their students in four years. Additionally, of last year’s seniors who did not graduate, 21% remained enrolled in school for this academic year and are persisting towards graduation.
The changing structure of our education system this year marks an important opportunity. As the schools in New Orleans move back under OPSB oversight and local control, we are poised for great change. Unification is a lever for vast improvement.
Some schools stand out in particular for their success or growth this year. Nine of New Orleans’ schools had graduation rates above the state average, and four schools saw an increase of more than five percentage points in their graduation rate. We want to celebrate these schools:
Examining graduation rates across Louisiana provides important context. New Orleans’ cohort graduation rate is on par with Caddo Parish, East Baton Rouge, and Jefferson Parish, despite having a larger percentage of economically disadvantaged students.
We also want to highlight the hard work of educators working with students with special needs. The graduation rate for New Orleans’ students with special needs is higher than the state average:
We must also celebrate the work schools are doing to prepare students for opportunities after graduation. Both New Orleans and Louisiana have a growing number of students earning early college credits or industry-based credentials for high wage jobs.
The chart below displays the graduation rates from highest to lowest for New Orleans’ public schools for the past three years. The chart also includes graduation rate averages for Louisiana and Orleans Parish.
On July 1, all of the public schools in New Orleans will be unified under the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB). OPSB’s new portfolio model and accountability structure are critical tools in this process. Change will happen as OPSB leads, making hard decisions to ensure that all students are in quality high schools.
We are committed to working with OPSB and and all of our high schools to determine the appropriate solutions and to move quickly and thoughtfully to ensure that every student in our city has a high quality high-school option.
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