BATON ROUGE- The Louisiana Department of Education released data on Aug. 29 demonstrating how students in grades 4-12 are progressing toward fully mastering key concepts and skills in English language arts (ELA) and math year-after-year. The release marks a significant step in the implementation of the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), in which Louisiana leaders committed to developing a new tool to provide a more comprehensive view of school and school system performance.
Natchitoches Parish ranked among the top 13 parishes according to the new school performance measure that tracks student progress in the state.
The release complements the release of subject-area proficiency rates on LEAP 2025 assessments, and for the first time, will factor into the annual school performance scores that will be published in the Louisiana School Finder later this fall.
“Academic achievement indicates whether students are prepared for the next level of study. Student progress indicates whether students are improving from one year to the next. Together, achievement and progress provide a more complete picture,” said State Superintendent John White. “Now the state’s accountability system measures not only where students ended up, but how much progress they made to get there.”
MEASURING STUDENT PROGRESS
Louisiana public schools and school systems are assigned A-F letter grades every year. The letter grades correspond to a scale of school performance scores, which are calculated using student performance metrics, including but not limited to students’ state assessment scores.
By 2025, as outlined in the state’s ESSA plan, the average A-rated school in Louisiana is one in which students are proficient in literacy and math skills, demonstrated by a score of Mastery or Advanced on state assessments. To ensure students are improving at a rate that will allow them to reach this goal, the state has developed a measurement tool that assigns each student a tailored growth target to meet each year and then tracks how their performance changes over time.
Schools earn an ‘A’ in the progress measure for students that demonstrate top growth by:
showing improvement on ELA and math assessments that is on track to Mastery of key skills and content by 8th grade (elementary/middle school) or 10th grade (high school), and/or
outperforming other similar students statewide, as measured by Louisiana’s value-added model.
The student progress measure will attribute to 25 percent of an elementary or middle school’s performance score and 12.5 percent of a high school’s performance score. In addition to an overall school performance score and letter grade, schools will earn a letter grade equivalent for student achievement and progress on their annual report card.
2018 STUDENT PROGRESS RESULTS
Based on this measurement, the 2018 student progress results show:
Students are progressing at a faster pace in ELA than in math, mirroring recent subject-area state assessment achievement results. About 48 percent of students statewide demonstrated top growth on ELA assessments, compared to 43 percent on math.
Louisiana is demonstrating the greatest growth with students scoring Basic in the prior year. This is followed closely by the most struggling students, those scoring Approaching Basic or Unsatisfactory in the prior year.
Historically disadvantaged groups of students demonstrated top growth statewide, but accelerated progress is needed to close achievement gaps with peers. For example, 46 percent of assessments across all students demonstrated top growth, while 43 percent of assessments among black students, 45 percent among economically disadvantaged, 46 percent among English learners, and 43 percent among students with disabilities achieved that level. However, because their overall achievement levels are lower, educators must support historically disadvantaged student groups to improve at a faster pace than their peers in order to close achievement gaps.
Select schools and school systems statewide made significant gains among all subjects, grades and/or groups of students.
UTILIZING STUDENT PROGRESS RESULTS
The student progress results will be utilized in various ways, depending on the audience. Families, for example, will use the data to understand the extent to which schools in their community are helping students stay on track or catch up, while educators will use the data to identify gaps in learning and instruction, provide targeted interventions to students, set meaningful goals, and implement improvement strategies.
The state will use this information to calculate school performance scores and letter grades this fall, as well as a score and letter grade equivalent for both student performance and student progress, and to identify and support struggling schools.
As part of Louisiana’s ESSA plan, struggling schools are required to submit an improvement plan to the Department, along with an application for funding to support its implementation. Struggling schools include:
Comprehensive intervention required for persistently low performance overall
Urgent intervention required for persistently low performance among specific subgroups of students or out-of-school discipline rates
Schools with low performance among specific subgroups of students in the current year only will be identified with the label “urgent intervention needed.”