BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Department of Education released performance data that detail how well child care centers and schools across the state prepared students, birth through grade 12, for the next level of learning during the 2017-2018 school year. The results, which are available online in the Louisiana School and Center Finder, mark a significant step in the implementation of the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and reflect critical shifts in the design and reporting of Louisiana’s accountability system.
“Today’s release is an important step in Louisiana’s push for higher expectations and improvement,” said State Superintendent John White. “Early childhood outcomes demonstrate that teaching is improving statewide in child care, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten classrooms. And K-12 schools are beginning to step up to significantly higher expectations.” Early Childhood Performance Profiles In 2016-2017, Louisiana began reporting performance data for all publicly funded early childhood programs, including early childhood centers, Head Start programs and pre-kindergarten sites, as a way to measure core elements needed for positive child outcomes, provide a clear and focused path to improvement, and give families an easy way to compare choices in their community. The unified system has two components: ratings that relate to positive child outcomes, such as teacher-child interactions and instruction, and information on classroom best practices, like credentialing teachers and using top-tier curriculum. Those two components are featured on each site’s performance profile.
The overall performance rating, which is based on observations, is reported in four categories: Excellent, Proficient, Approaching Proficient, and Unsatisfactory. The 2017-2018 early childhood performance profiles demonstrate the following trends: • The percentage of sites providing quality care and instruction increased by 7 percent. Of the approximately 1,500 early childhood sites to receive performance profiles in 2017-2018, 77 percent provided children with care and instruction at levels that research shows promote kindergarten readiness.
That is an improvement from the previous year, when about 70 percent of sites did.
• This improvement occurred at all age levels. Louisiana early childhood sites saw improvements across the board, from classroom climate to organization to instruction, at both the pre-kindergarten and toddler levels. The increase can be attributed, in part, to better aligned resources and strong professional development.
• More early childhood classrooms are embracing best practices. Louisiana has seen a significant increase in the number of sites using a high-quality curriculum, from 77 percent in 2016-2017 to 84 percent in 2017-2018. In addition, more child care teachers are prepared to teach than ever before.
• Nearly 300 sites earned a spot on the state’s Honor Roll. They earned this recognition for overall excellence, for providing superior care to the state’s youngest learners, and for improving performance over time. Each site has a special badge on its online performance profile to signify its accomplishment. Higher Expectations for K-12 Schools Each year, every public school in Louisiana earns a school performance score and corresponding letter grade to communicate how well it is preparing students for the next grade level.
Per the state’s ESSA plan, school performance scores released today reflect three major changes to the accountability system:
• Louisiana is redefining what it means to be an “A” school. By 2025, an “A” school in Louisiana is one where the average student has fully mastered content, is ready for the next level of study, and has access to the same opportunities as his or her peers across the country. As the state works toward that goal, it is gradually raising the bar for what it takes to earn the highest grade.
• Louisiana is rewarding schools for student progress, in addition to their absolute performance. Starting this year, schools are evaluated not just on the skill levels their students demonstrate but also on how much progress their students make over the course of a school year. In other words, educators and parents will be able to see not only where students stand but also how far they’ve come. This step provides parents and community members a new view of school quality, one focused not only on which schools have the top students but also on which schools help all students—high-performing and struggling students alike—learn the most during the school year.
• Louisiana is identifying and supporting struggling schools. The Louisiana School and Center Finder now identifies schools with unusually high out-of-school discipline rates and schools that struggle to support specific student groups, such as economically disadvantaged students or students with disabilities. Schools labeled as “Urgent Intervention Required” will be required to generate a plan for improvement, even if they demonstrate high performance in other areas or overall.
The 2017-2018 school performance results show:
• As schools respond to higher expectations, the distribution of school performance scores has shifted modestly. The result is 13 percent of schools statewide received an “A” grade; 31 percent of schools statewide received a “B” grade; 30 percent of schools statewide received a “C” grade; 14 percent of schools statewide received a “D” grade; and 12 percent of schools statewide received an “F” grade.
• More than 500 struggling schools must submit an improvement plan to the state. This year, 276 schools struggled persistently overall and are now required to submit a plan for comprehensive intervention.
An additional 226 schools struggled persistently with one or more groups of students and/or school discipline and are required to submit a plan for urgent intervention. In total, school systems will be required to submit plans for 502 schools. These plans will be reviewed by the state for approval and funding support in the 2018-2019 school year. “This year’s results are based on more comprehensive information on student growth and achievement than ever before,” said Dr. Gary Jones, president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“This enhanced performance data provides a more accurate snapshot of where we truly stand—an important part of the equation as we assess our state’s progress toward meeting higher expectations in K-12 and early childhood education. As our school districts and educators rise to that challenge, the information will help them to more clearly identify needs and opportunities and put sound improvement strategies into practice.”