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'Tis A Shame Gov. Jindal Says Louisiana Public Schools are Failing - Friday, October 7, 2011

Hear the Echoes No. 29



                Tis A Shame Gov. Jindal Says

      Louisiana Public Schools are Failing


                Shouldering no responsibility for 44% of Louisiana public schools graded "D or "F in the first year of letter grading public schools, Gov. Jindal promises to put education reform at the top of his agenda at the next legislative session.


                A closer evaluation of Department of Education reporting of baseline School Performance Scores (SPS) reveals that only 8.5% of all Louisiana public schools are failing; while 25.6% scored "A or "B.  Another 27.4% scored "C SPSs.  Of the "C graded schools 10 were within a half-point of being "B rated schools.


                Gov. Jindal takes no responsibility for having cut local school district budgets in every year of his term, or limiting Pre-K enrollments in LA4 to only 14,000 of the 56,000 eligible children.


                How much of a role did the  state-run Recovery School District play in calculating that 44%?  Well fully 66.9% of all "D and "F grades listed in the DOE rank ordering of baseline performance scores were RSD schools.  How well is the "reform model of the RSD working?


                Analysis of Department of Education reports reveal that while the number of Recovery School District (RSD) students taking the 4th grade 2011 English Language Arts iLEAP test amount to 4.5 percent of all state students taking the test (2,189 vs. 51,340), the number of unsatisfactory performing students in the RSD accounted to 12.7 percent of the total unsatisfactory scoring in the State (431 of 3,989).


                The 2011 iLEAP fourth grade tests on mathematics, 2,298 RSD students were tested, and 559 of them tested unsatisfactory.  The 5,847 unsatisfactory out of 51,360 state students tested amounted to an 11.4 percent unsatisfactory rate as compared to the 24.3 percent of RSD math tested students with unsatisfactory scores.


                The 2011 iLEAP fourth grade science testing shows an even greater disparity of performance between RSD tested students and those of all other Louisiana Districts.  Of 51,358 students taking the science test state-wide 8.5 percent (4,383) graded unsatisfactory.  The RSD unsatisfactory results amounted to 20.3 of the 2,302 tested students (467).


                Third grade iLEAP scores reported this spring show much the same pattern as the fourth grade.  Among 2,456 RSD third-graders taking the ELA test, 25.5 percent (627) were reported unsatisfactory; while the state as a whole reported 12.3 percent unsatisfactory. 


                Comparison of the third grade math iLEAP scores were even worse with 27.6 percent of the 2,457 RSD tested student drawing unsatisfactory against 14.1 percent of all other Louisiana third graders scoring unsatisfactory.


                There are currently 69 schools operated by the RSD. No SPS score, in 2009-10 was given for 31.4 percent of students in RSD-run schools, and 9.2 percent of RSD charters had no SPS score. Even after eliminating all of those low performing schools for lack of a baseline, the remaining RSD schools rank 62 among 63 SIPs.


                Of 341 schools earning letter grades of "A or "B, one from the RSD is listed in the LDOE rankings.  More than 25% of state schools ranked "A or "B.  Among the 278 schools achieving (B) baseline SPSs, the RSD had but five.


                A total of 366 schools earned "C baseline SPS, with but four RSD schools earning that grade.


                Amid the 627 schools with "D scores, RSD schools numbered 29 with most clustered among the lowest range of "D scores.  Only four of the RSD schools scoring "D were in the top quarter of all "D scored schools while 20 of the "D rated RSD schools were in the lowest quarter.


                There were 114 "F graded schools, however, 37 of those were alternative schools.  Within those 114 "F rated schools were 29 RSD schools.  Thus, 24.4% of all failing schools were operated by the state-run RSD, and 4.6% of "D schools were RSD. 


                Alternative schools and programs are designed to address the needs of students that typically cannot be met in regular schools. The students who attend alternative schools and programs are typically at risk of educational failure (as indicated by poor grades, truancy, disruptive behavior, pregnancy, or similar factors associated with temporary or permanent withdrawal from school).


                Many educators debate whether or not alternative schools should be a part of the regular school assessment system.


                Gov. Jindal and his cabal of super-wealthy supporters are framing the school performance to further their campaign, nationally, to erode public support for public schools.  Their announced intent Is to further the interests of private school vouchers, tax credits to parents sending their children to private schools, and charters.  Many of the charters are selective admission institutions.  The results of these strategies is to create a resegregated school system with one segment for economically well to do families children, and another for the poorer segment of the population.


                The role of democratically elected local school boards is to be sacrificed in the conversion of an increasing number of local public schools into corporate profit centers that, on average, take more than 12% of school revenue to their profit line.


                Public school stakeholders, parents, teachers, principals, bus drivers must realize that the nature of public education in Louisiana is on the line in this years election.  Portraying public schools as failing is Gov. Jindals way to assumption of dictatorial powers over local schools.


Don Whittinghill




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