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New Orleans Public Schools (NOPS) is the name given to the city's public school system. Pre-Katrina, NOPS was one of the area's largest systems (along with the Jefferson Parish public school system). In the years leading up to Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans public school system was widely recognized as the lowest performing school district in Louisiana. According to researchers Carl L. Bankston and Stephen J. Caldas, only 12 of the 103 public schools within the city limits of New Orleans showed reasonably good performance at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana took over most of the schools within the system (all schools that fell into a nominal "worst-performing" metric); many of these schools, in addition to others that were not subject to state takeover, were subsequently granted operating charters giving them administrative independence from the Orleans Parish School Board, the Recovery School District and/or the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). Presently, the majority of public school students in the NOPS system attend these independent public charter schools, the highest percentage in the nation.

The last few years have witnessed significant and sustained gains in student achievement, as outside operators like KIPP, the Algiers Charter School Network, and the Capital One - University of New Orleans Charter School Network have assumed control of dozens of schools. The most recent release of annual school performance scores (October 2009) demonstrated continued growth in the academic performance of New Orleans' public schools. If the scores of all public schools in New Orleans (Orleans Parish School Board-chartered, Recovery School District-chartered, Recovery School District-operated, etc.) are considered, an overall school district performance score of 70.6 results. This score represents a 6% increase over an equivalent 2008 metric, and a 24% improvement when measured against an equivalent pre-Katrina (2004) metric, when a district score of 56.9 was posted.[101] Notably, this score of 70.6 approaches the score (78.4) posted in 2009 by the adjacent, suburban Jefferson Parish public school system, though that system's performance score is itself below the state average of 91.

In addition to a number of nationally-respected private secular schools, the Greater New Orleans area has approximately 200 parochial schools, the vast majority run by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans.[citation needed] The prevalence of decent-quality, affordable parochial school education has historically been both a cause and a consequence of metropolitan New Orleans' comparatively mediocre public school systems.[citation needed] Because so many middle class students have been enrolled in Catholic schools, middle class support for quality public education has long been comparatively weak.[citation needed] At the same time, the historically middling-to-poor quality of the region's public school systems, especially NOPS, has for years prompted middle class families to educate their children in private or parochial schools.[citation needed]

This longstanding pattern is changing, however, as the NOPS system is engaged in the most promising and far-reaching public school reforms in the nation, reforms aimed at decentralizing power away from the pre-Katrina school board central bureaucracy to individual school principals and independent public charter school boards, monitoring charter school performance by granting renewable, five-year operating contracts permitting the closure of those not succeeding, and vesting choice in parents of public schools students, allowing them to enroll their children in almost any school in the district.

Colleges and universities
A view of Gibson Hall at Tulane University.A large number of institutions of higher education exist within the city, including Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans, the city's major private universities. These universities also administer the city's three professional schools, Tulane University School of Medicine, Tulane University Law School and Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. The University of New Orleans is a large public research university in the city. Dillard University, Southern University at New Orleans and Xavier University of Louisiana are among some of the leading historically black colleges and universities in the United States (Xavier being the only predominantly black Catholic university in the U.S.) Louisiana State University School of Medicine is the state's flagship public university medical school, which also conducts research. Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Notre Dame Seminary and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary are several smaller religiously affiliated universities. Other notable schools include Delgado Community College, the William Carey College School of Nursing, the Culinary Institute of New Orleans, Herzing College, and Commonwealth University.




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