Louisiana’s public school system has been ranked rock bottom in yet another national study. This new report is a little more chilling than some others, though, because it underscores the lack of safety and security in the state’s schools.
The survey by WalletHub, a website that conducts research on a wide range of national economic, community, government and social issues, ranked Louisiana 51st in the study of public education systems in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
State education officials here expressed some satisfaction in a slight improvement in educational quality this year compared to the 2016 report. Louisiana ranked 44th in school quality in the 2017 study compared to its No. 49 position last year.
That should be little consolation when it is considered that the state still ranked 48th in both reading and math scores.
Louisiana’s overall score on the survey was 27.42 compared to a 78.16 grade for Massachusetts, which had the highest ranking in the study
Those overall rankings were based on numerous factors that help determine the quality of state school systems, including graduation rates, dropout statistics, scores on standardized assessments tests in math and reading, Advanced Placement scores, grades on SAT and ACT exams, pupil-teacher ratios and the percentage of certified teachers in each system
Most alarming for Louisiana residents who by now have become accustomed to such poor rankings for the state education system should be this state’s No. 51 position in the school safety category. That phase of the study was a severe blow to Louisiana’s image.
The school safety segment of the study was based on such data as reports of students being threatened or injured at school, number of students not attending school because of safety concerns, students’ participation in violence, access to illegal drugs, rates of bullying and youth incarceration rates.
A spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Education noted in a statement, or more accurately an understatement, that the report “indicates persistent challenges with school safety.” Addressing that challenge must be a major priority for state education leaders.
Numerous other factors contribute to Louisiana’s school safety problems, including high poverty rates and other economic and social issues. So community involvement is needed to help make schools safer places for young people.
Louisiana is at the bottom of every good list and top of every bad list in the nation, and that is not likely to change until the state has a better education system and raises educational achievement levels of its citizens.