March 24, 2023

Louisiana families deserve to know how their schools perform

In response to COVID-19, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) decided that performance scores for 2019-2020 will remain static from the previous school year. For the 2020-2021 school year, there has been discussion of foregoing school performance scores or curving letter grades. Failing to assign updated grades to Louisiana public schools for the second year in a row is a disservice to parents, taxpayers and especially our students.

Louisiana should issue school letter grades for 2020-2021 to gather critical data about how students are doing, identify the extent of learning gaps, and use the data to guide interventions in the next school year. Louisiana’s public education system has made significant progress over the last decade. In 2019, our students ranked first in the nation for improvement in 8th grade math and in the top 10 among all states for improvement on each of the four LEAP 25 tests. Louisiana students have proven that they can meet the lofty goals adults set for them. So why would we consider stifling student growth by failing to assess and publicly report school performance for the second year in a row.

The LDOE school accountability system is designed to assure parents that students enrolled in public schools are receiving a minimum foundation of education and to help make decisions about where resources should be directed to ensure continued academic achievement. These letter grades provide families and communities with an accurate picture of school and system performance quality.

Last year, the legislature had the foresight to ensure that the accountability system could not be used to the disadvantage of students or teachers because of learning loss that may have occurred due to the interruptions caused by COVID-19. During the second extraordinary session, the legislature passed a bill prohibiting the use of student assessments and testing data for evaluating teacher performance or making placement decisions for fourth and eighth grade students for the 2020-2021 school year. Even if a school’s letter grade is limited to showing growth or decline over years past, that information is still valuable to parents and policymakers.

Families, taxpayers, and education policymakers deserve to know the truth about how schools are performing. Only by providing accurate information can parents make the best decisions for their children, and educators can direct resources to schools in need of an intervention. Facing these truths head-on will allow Louisiana students to continue to flourish.

This article was originally posted on Louisiana families deserve to know how their schools perform

Sydney Boles