NEW ORLEANS - "The state has a policy of holding back students who don't perform at high levels on test scores," Dr. Douglas Harris with the Education Research Alliance said.

Now the Education Research Alliance is analyzing how that is affecting children getting an education in the City of New Orleans.

"We found that 40 percent of New Orleans high school students are held back at least once throughout their careers," Dr. Harris said.

Another finding from the study is at least 46 percent of high school seniors were at least one year older than their peers.

Dr. Douglas Harris, Director of the Alliance, says they helped analyze the statistics for this study. The study looked at local students in all publicly funded schools in 2014, focusing on their high school and elementary school years.

"We have a pretty good sense that the state's policy around grade retention which applies in 4th-8th grades, especially in some of the early years where the policy was more intense. Those were the grades where the students were most likely to be held back," Dr. Harris said.

Many of the students left behind at least a year, Dr. Harris says were affected by Hurricane Katrina.

"In the years of Katrina, a lot of students were held back because of the disruption of moving and switching schools and everything that happened," Dr. Harris said.

Erika McConduit is the President and CEO of Urban League of Louisiana.

She says what she notices both in Baton Rouge and New Orleans is the need for mental health and services that can help children succeed.

"There are many more social needs and wrap around services that we have to put around our young people to make sure that not only are we providing them academic options but options that speak to their comprehensive needs," McConduit said.

The Orleans Parish School Board released a statement saying:

“We can all agree that the research is clear - it isn't good for any city or school system to hold back a significant number of students. But to graduate on time, our young people can't start kindergarten already behind. That's why students, families, teachers, principals, and the school board want funding for better pre-k, along with high quality schools in every community and new pipelines for the best local teacher talent.

That agenda is how we make a difference and if we stay unified, together we are well positioned to take on these tough challenges and do what's right for the children and families of New Orleans. We are called on to keep moving forward.”