New Orleans, LA - For the past five years, teachers, school leaders, and education reformers have flocked to a city that, since Hurricane Katrina, has become the national capital for innovation in public education through the proliferation of public charter schools.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, 2 percent of New Orleans public school students attended charter schools. Today, that number has risen to over 61 percent. For the 2010 school year, 60 public charter schools are educating the students of New Orleans. That increase in charter school population has been accompanied by inspiring growth in academic achievement.

  • Before Hurricane Katrina wiped out the New Orleans public school system, two-thirds of the city's public school students attended failing schools; today, that percentage is less than a third.
  • More high school seniors are graduating. In 2005, 79 percent of seniors in New Orleans Public schools graduated. In 2010, the graduation rate was at 90 percent.
  • Consistently, in the years after Katrina, student's scores in New Orleans have continued to gain 16 points in fourth grade reading and math proficiency and 14 points in eighth grade. Comparatively the statewide average has made 2-point and 4-point gains respectively.
  • New Orleans is closing the achievement gap between the district scores and the state average by almost 50 percent since the storm.

"We are thrilled that public charter schools have been able to help transform a public education system that has long been plagued with being academically unsuccessful. The academic growth we have seen since Hurricane Katrina is both inspiring and phenomenal, and while there is still much work to be accomplished, we are finally on the right track to creating a system of quality education options for the parents of both New Orleans and Louisiana," said Caroline Roemer Shirley, Executive Director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.

"Charter schools in New Orleans are showing what is possible when schools are given the freedom and ability to serve the students who need them," said Peter C. Groff, president and CEO, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "Even in the face of tragedy and tremendous adversity, NOLA charters have worked alongside traditional district schools to create an environment tailored to students needs, and these charter schools are demonstrating that low-income and underserved kids can achieve at a high levels."

About Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools

The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) is a 501c3 non profit organization whose mission is to increase student achievement by supporting, promoting, and advocating for the quality charter school movement.