K-12 Education Reform

In 2003, New Orleans public schools were among the worst performing schools in the nation. The state created the Louisiana Recovery School District (RSD) to take over the operations of chronically failing schools and give oversight to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). After Hurricane Katrina, the legislature moved to give the RSD control of more than 100 public schools.

The tragic events of Hurricane Katrina offered the City a unique opportunity to transform its approach to education. By eliminating attendance zones and converting traditionally run schools into public charter schools, parents have a wider range of school choices and schools have the autonomy to innovate and meet the needs of their students.

In 2005, over 40,000, or 62 percent, of students attended failing schools—down to 6 percent now. Out of 68 districts in the state, New Orleans was 67th; now it has risen to 41st of 69. African American students in New Orleans have out-performed their peers across the state with 59 percent meeting proficiency, compared to the state’s 54 percent average.

The City’s graduation rate has soared from 54 percent to 73 percent of students earning their diplomas. New Orleans is a national example, which outperforms the rest of the nation, with 65 percent of the City’s African American males graduating on time.

Maintaining student achievement gains while balancing parental choice, school independence and innovative practices with regulations that ensure equitable access to high quality options for all students remains the central goal.

Key Recovery Data

1.8 billion

Money allocated to rebuild, renovate, or refurbish 80 schools in New Orleans


Students enrolled in charter schools, the most of any district in the nation


Increase in students on grade level between 2005 and 2014


Increase in students enrolled in college


African-American male graduation rate, which is above the national average of 59%

Best US City for School Reform

As cited by Fordham Institute

Overall Student Performance

Percentage scoring proficient or above on state tests

African American Student Performance

Percentage scoring proficient or above on state tests

Graduation Rate

College Enrollment

Eligible for TOPS Merit Scholarships

TOPS provides state-funded 2- and 4-year merit- based scholarships to Louisiana public colleges and universities.

New Programs & Initiatives

In 2012, the RSD launched a unified enrollment system and the annual OneApp process. 89% of public schools now participate in unified enrollment.