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Louisiana School Board Association

News & Announcements

LEAP of Faith - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Listen UP!


LEAP of faith?


          Thereís good news and bad news! 


          Louisiana students taking the state accountability tests this year generally made good progress.   Fourth and eighth grade students increased the percentage passing by four percent each with fourth grade growing to an 80% passage rate, and 74% 8th grade rate.  Some 2,300 students in these grades were added to the grade level passing student pool.


          The bad news:  About 230,000 high school students are projected to be below grade level.


          Surprise is that Gov. Jindalís fund raising consulting firm almost had the news out before the DOE press conference.  Of course they had a private showing of data before anyone outside of DOE did.  Of course that gave them time to frame the news to their political use.


          The first part of the spin has been used by Pastorek in the past.  It combines tests of the RSD and the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) schools and then concludes that New Orleans schools do far better than the state average.  Of course that tends to lead readers to believe that the RSD is doing so much better.  Of course what most of us know, but the general public may not, is that the OPSB schools are among the highest performers in the state. 


          Compare the RSD New Orleans scores with those of East Carroll Parish and the dimensions of the over-priced RSD-NO failure becomes clearer.  That poverty-stricken parish led the state with the largest percentage increase in students scoring basic and above with an 8 percent gain.  RSD New Orleans by contrast had a 5 percent gain.  That is a year to year growth.


          Another bit of spin reveals that by choosing a period, 2007 to 2011, the RSD-NO can be shown to have a 25 percent gain in the percentage of students at basic and above, four points higher than E. Carroll Parish.


          The top ranked schools in percentage of students at grade level on Spring 2011 testing are Zachary Community School District with 85 percent, Orleans Parish with 82 percent, West Feliciana with 81 percent, Livingston, Plaquemines, Vernon Parishes and Central Community School District at 79 percent.  The top 10 rounds out with St. Tammany, Allen and Jefferson Davis Parishes at 78.


          The practical impact of combining OPSB and RSD-NO can be seen in the tables that reveal that 40 percent of OPSB English test takers were at basic, with 37 percent at mastery, and 18 percent at advanced.  Compare that with RSD-NO where 43 percent were at basic, 13 percent mastery, and 3 percent advanced. 


          Just how many journals will have been positively influenced by the way that Gov. Jindalís fund raising firm packaged the news remains to be seen.  Public school activists will know and be in a position to focus on the truth.  Even spending more per student than any other public school district in the state, the RSD performance is still lowly ranked.


Don Whittinghill