BATON ROUGE, La. - After months of discussion with educators and administrators, the Department of Education today presented a set of assessment and accountability policy proposals as part of Louisiana's gradual transition to more rigorous expectations. Delivered to the Superintendents' Advisory Council, today's presentation focused on the concept of putting students on a level playing field with peers around the country while not denigrating schools in the process.
The Department detailed three recommendations related to the transition in grades three through eight:
- Louisiana would maintain its plan to begin administering tests of more rigorous fundamental reading, writing, and math standards in grades 3-8 as of spring 2015.
- Louisiana would maintain a relatively stable distribution of test scores in 2013-2014 and in years hence, provided that educators learn new expectations. Then, as it did with the current LEAP and iLEAP state-made assessments, Louisiana would gradually raise the definition of "proficient" over multiple years on the assessments so that students and educators have time to meet the new, higher expectations.
- Because of this approach to test scores, Louisiana school and district letter grades should not dramatically shift. To further ensure stability during the transition period, the Department will propose a rule that ensures schools may not drop more than one letter grade in the first year of administration.
"This plan raises expectations without hurting students or denigrating teachers and schools," said State Superintendent John White. "We have made great strides, and that should be respected. At the same time, this plan makes sure our state continues to move forward so that our kids are prepared for the economic opportunities they deserve after high school and college."
At future meetings, the Department committed to presenting proposals regarding high school policies, including test scheduling, graduation requirements, and promotion guidelines for students. Additionally, Superintendent John White will be discussing these proposals with educators on his statewide tour.
Louisiana first began using a statewide assessment in 1999 with the implementation of LEAP and then iLEAP. This allowed Louisiana to measure student achievement; the state has seen dramatic improvement in those years. On the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the average performance of a Louisiana 4th grader has grown by a full grade level in both math and reading over the last decade. 8th grade students have shown similar progress in math.
At the same time, Louisiana still trails most states in literacy and math achievement, ranking between 45th and 48th among states on most measures. By shifting to new assessments in 2015, the state would be able to compare how Louisiana students are performing in comparison to their peers across the country, ensuring they would be better prepared for success during their adult lives.
The Department has been working with teachers, school leaders, and superintendents across the state to prepare for this transition by providing resources and information. The Classroom Support Toolbox has resources for district staff, teachers, and principals that provide examples of these assessments and how to align instruction to this higher bar. Additionally, the Department has and is continuing to work with Teacher Leaders so that every school in the state has a point of contact that can support them in this work. Example questions in both English language arts and math and field tests provide a first look at what this level of rigor will look like in 2015, and the Department will continue to support educators through additional example items and training to ensure that Louisiana students and teachers are prepared as the state raises the bar for learning.
To view the full presentation from today's meeting, please click here.