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The Accountabilty Commission needs to hear your voice!
September 19, 2014


Schools that serve a lot of students with disabilities are deemed failures.  


Are you tired of most students with disabilities counting as a '0' in our school accountability system? 


Do you think it is unfair that a school's letter grade is often determined by which students attend (or do not attend) that school, instead of how well every student is taught and served in the school?


Do you want our school accountability system to measure how well schools serve all students, instead of rewarding schools for selective admissions or punishing schools that serve all students?


If you answered 'YES' to any of the questions above, join LaTEACH members at the Accountability Commission meeting next Thursday, September 25, 2014 to advocate for an accountability system that measures how well schools serve all students instead of measuring which students attend a school.

WHAT:     Accountability Commission        Agenda

ISSUES:  Recommendations to change the school and teacher

                accountability system

WHEN:    Thursday, September 25, 2014   (
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.)

WHERE:  Claiborne Building, Thomas Jefferson Room (1-136)
                1201 N. Third Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802


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Important Information

School Performance Scores are based on which students are enrolled, not how well students are taught or served.


Schools receive letter grades based on their School Performance Scores (SPS), which are based on whether students in each school meet certain benchmarks on standardized tests.  

Students with disabilities are typically identified because they have a condition that adversely impacts their academic performance; and, often begin each school year academically behind their classmates without disabilities. So, on average, students with disabilities, in every state, tend to not meet the same level of benchmarks on standardized tests as students without disabilities.


Students with disabilities tend to be the biggest losers in the competition between schools using an accountability system based on absolute performance on standardized tests.  How do students with disabilities lose?

  • Schools with higher rates of students with disabilities are more likely to fail, causing more disruption to the lives of students who need the most stability.  
  • Schools are actually penalized for making themselves attractive to students who need a lot of resources but are not likely to produce points for the school.  
  • Schools are rewarded for spending most of their resources on teaching the narrow band of children likely to improve beyond the cut score, and not focusing too many resources on the students not likely to make enough gains to even register on the performance scale.
  • Schools receive no credit for anything other than performance on a standardized test score.  There is no incentive to offer more, or better, therapy or support.
  • School accountability de-values students with disabilities. Like in Oklahoma, schools in Louisiana that serve too many students with disabilities fail. 

The U.S. Department of Education created the incentive for schools to not serve students with disabilities through waivers to states. States had to apply for waivers when it became clear that no school would meet the impossible target in No Child Left Behind of every child being proficient by 2014. Do you want a school grading system that is simple or one that is fair and just?  Read this recent news article about how a school in Oklahoma that began opening its doors to more students with disabilites went from an 'A' to an 'F.'


Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate the problem is to compare two schools - the top and bottom ranked schools in the state in 2012-2013.


2012-2013SPSPercent of Students on Free and Reduced LunchPercent of Students with Disabilities
Benjamin Franklin H.S.
138.531%<5%  *
Grant Academy

*  Note:  Data on percentages below 5% are no longer reported.  In 2011 only 0.6% of Benjamin Franklin High School students had disabilities.

  • Is a school with a student population of 657 student a success if it only serves four (4) students with disabilities instead of all 74 students with disabilities that are identified (based on the state average identification rate of about 11.3 percent)?  
  • Are the schools that serve more than their share of students with disabilities really failures?  Consider that based on the average rate of identification an additional seventy (70) students with disabilities had to be absorbed into other schools because of selective admissions requirements of Benjamin Franklin High School.  Benjamin Franklin is a fine school, and they are always the top ranked school in the state. This illustration is merely to reveal that our accountability system measures which students are in a school.

The current solution causes unnecessary disruption to too many children - particularly, students with disabilities.   For a complete description of the issue read the October 2013 LaDDC News article:  Educational Accountability and Reforms: Impact of One-Size-Fits-All Outcomes on Students with Disabilities.


Professor Douglas Harris, Tulane University, presented to the Accountability Commission on July 21, 2014:  An Evaluation of the Louisiana System of K-12 Education Accountability

Highlights from Dr. Harris' presentation include:

  • Differences in initial achievement levels not being accounted for in the School Performance Scores (SPS) is not only unfair but counter-productive.
  • A accountability valid system focuses mainly on student learning and growth.
  • Schools have limited incentive to help students who are really academically behind.  This lack of incentive is created by the use of 'cliffs' or cut scores on tests where it is an all or nothing point system for getting students over the cliff.
  • Getting from the middle of B range to be an 'A' school is extremely difficult 

Do you want a school grading system that is simple or one that is fair and just?

What To Do

Participate in the meetings and share your thoughts and concerns regarding how these issues impact your child.  Contact Accountability Commission members, BESE members and Legislators to let them know how you feel about these issues.

Did You Take Action?
action alert
Please let us know if you plan to attend any of the meetings above or if you sent any comments to any member of the MFP Task Force, BESE or Legislators to consider by emailing us at
Any questions?
If there are any questions about the information in this alert, contact LaTEACH at:
contact pic 
Phone: 1-800-450-8108
Phone: 1-800-894-6558

LaTEACH is an initiative of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council.