Reports show statewide gain in student achievement in Louisiana

Courtesy: MGN Online
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP & News Release) - Louisiana education officials say the latest performance scores for public schools and public school districts show improvements in "nearly every measure of academic progress."

However, the state Education Department says in a Thursday news release that the school performance grading system needs improvement. It says, for instance, that the system still doesn't reflect gains by low-achieving students.

Also, schools are not yet graded on preparation of students for the workforce or college.

Performance reports released Thursday include letter grades - A, B, C, D or F - for schools and school districts. Factors in those grades include the percentage of students achieving "mastery" of subject material in grades three through eight on standardized tests.

Performance on the ACT college readiness test is considered, as are graduation rates.

Check out the schools for your school in the related links found to the right side of this story.

Official release:

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education released today the 2015-2016 school and district performance score reports, showing a continued increase in student achievement in nearly every measure of academic progress in Louisiana's public schools. However, the reporting system does not fully reflect the gains made by many schools that are making great progress, particularly with low-achieving students, just as it does not grade schools based on expectations of full preparation for the workplace and college.

"Improved ratings in our schools are a result of improved learning outcomes for students, using nationally recognized measures of success," said State Superintendent of Education John White. "At the same time, the ratings do not yet recognize progress being made with students who are starting at a lower level. They also do not yet provide students, parents, and educators a full picture of what it takes to be fully prepared for college or for a job. Just as we honor the successes reflected by today's announcement, we must provide a more comprehensive picture of what it means to be a successful school."

K-12 STUDENT PERFORMANCE
In 2015-2016, students made progress on multiple measures including tests in grades 3-8, ACT, graduation rate, and performance in credentialing programs such as Advanced Placement, dual enrollment and Jump Start career credentials.

• Grades 3-8 LEAP Tests: The percentage of students scoring "Mastery" and above increased by six percentage points from 2015 to 2016, and over 10 percentage points since 2013.
• ACT: The Class of 2016 earned a record-high average composite for Louisiana - 19.5, making Louisiana the most improved state that assesses all of its students. In 2015-16, student results on the WorkKeys career-readiness assessment were also included in the ACT Index for the first time.
• Graduation Rate: In 2016 Louisiana's graduation rate reached an all-time high of 77.5 percent. Louisiana raised its graduation rate 10.3 percent in the past five years, outpacing the nation's growth of 4.6 percent.
• Strength of Diploma: Louisiana high school students have more college and career opportunities in high school than ever before. In 2016, the Class of 2016 achieved a record number of Advanced Placement credits, earning 845 more credits in 2016 than 2015, and 4,436 more credits since 2012. The Class of 2016 also earned a record number of college credits by successfully taking the College-Level Examination Program®, increasing from 1,278 in 2015 to 2,630 in 2016, an increase of 106 percent.

K-12 SCHOOL PERFORMANCE
As a result of student success, schools across the state improved on nearly every student achievement measure in the state's accountability system.

ADDRESSING CHALLENGES THROUGH ESSA
Louisiana is currently undergoing a year-long process to develop its long-term plan for prekindergarten through 12th grade education, in compliance with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Through this plan, Louisiana will continue to raise the bar for student achievement to meet the state's 2025 goal, while ensuring that the state's historically disadvantaged students have equal access to high-quality instruction, teachers and coursework.

As part of this process, Louisiana released a draft framework in September proposing changes to the state's accountability system in order to ensure that all students are on a path to prosperity. These proposals have been, and will continue to be adjusted based on feedback from educators, community, business and civic leaders, and advocate groups.

The Department is working with several advisory groups, including the Louisiana Accountability Commission, to finalize its ESSA plan and long-term accountability measures by next spring, with the hope that it will be approved by the U.S. Department of Education in time for educators, students and families to begin the 2017-2018 school year with a clear path forward.

EARLY CHILDHOOD PERFORMANCE
This week, the Department also shared draft, practice performance profiles with early childhood programs that highlight their performance on the state's unified rating system for all publicly-funded child care, Head Start and pre-K sites. While there are no consequences associated with this year's results, the profiles provide early childhood programs and their communities with helpful information on each program's strengths as well as areas in which they need to improve in order to ensure all children are ready for kindergarten.

Since the passage of Act 3 in 2012, the state has worked closely with local communities to build a unified early childhood system and evaluate programs in order to help families choose the best option for their children. Last year, 98 percent of early childhood classrooms were observed each semester using a nationally-regarded observation tool that measures interactions and instruction over a two hour period. Using the results of those observations, most programs will focus on implementing quality curriculum and improving instruction this year in order to better support young children's learning and development.