Louisiana schools improve, but tougher standards deem more schools as ‘unacceptable’
The Louisiana Department of Education released Tuesday a preliminary School Performance Score (SPS) for traditional and Recovery School District (RSD) schools that were deemed an “Academically Unacceptable School.”
The AUS label means a school is open to state-level sanctions that follow the precepts laid out by No Child Left Behind. This year’s cutoff was an SPS of 65, which is derived from a formula that relies on student attendance percentages, dropout rates, graduation rates and state test results per pupil, depending on the school. Since 1999, the first year of the state’s accountability system, minimum SPS markers have increased three times, with another increase slated for 2012, at 75.
Not including RSD schools, which are by definition chronically under-performing schools under state stewardship, 48 traditional campuses did not meet the minimum SPS required to avoid AUS status.
“We predicted a significant increase in the number of schools that would initially fail to meet the minimum standard,” said acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler, according to the press release. “But I have no doubt that we will see schools quickly overcome this status, given the history of our districts and schools in responding to tougher standards.”
According to LDOE, the state’s schools have been improving: 477, or 40 percent, of the state’s 1,188 scored schools earned an SPS below 65 in 1999. In 2011, 9.9 percent, or 135 of the state’s 1,361 alternative, traditional and Recovery School District schools, earned a 2011 SPS below 65.
Also from the press release:
“We realize today’s news is unwelcomed. But we haven’t lost sight of our progress and the effort being put forth by educators across our state to ensure our students have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in school and beyond,” Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Penny Dastugue said. “What BESE did when we made the decision to raise standards is say ‘It’s not acceptable that more than half the students in a school are performing below grade level. Our students deserve more from us.’ Our commitment and challenge now at the state level is to work with schools and districts to get every school in the state over the bar.”
An analysis of School Performance Scores indicates an SPS of 65 represents a school where approximately 61 percent of the student population is performing below grade level.
Some schools nearly made it off the list, while others, like the beleaguered Schwarz Alternative School in New Orleans with an SPS of 6.2, have much ground to cover.
For more detailed information on AUS results for traditional and RSD schools, please click on the following links (PDF and Excel):