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Louisiana School Board Association

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Shedding Light on Student Achievement - Wednesday, November 2, 2011

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Shedding Light on Student Achievement



            The National Institute of Education Sciences NAEP test scores were released today showing only marginal improvement by Louisiana’s fourth and eighth grades students since the post-Katrina reform movement was instituted.


            Average mathematics scale scores for Louisiana NAEP tested 8th grade students eligible for National School Lunch program rose, from 2007 to 2011, by one point from 230 to 231.  Among white students tested the average scale score grew from 240 to 241 but scores were the same (219) for black students.


            The sample testing revealed that Louisiana NAEP 8th grade reading test takers eligible for the National School Lunch program rose from a scale score of 245 in  2007, to 247 in 2011.  


            The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tests students every other year as part of an effort to track student achievement.


            By comparison, the national average scale score for all reading tested 8th grade students eligible for the National School Lunch program moved from 247 to 251 over the period 2007-2011. 


            Two states whose student achievement results are often compared to Louisiana’s are Kentucky and Alabama.  The Kentucky reading tested 8th grade students eligible for the school lunch program scored 262 in 2007 and 269 in 2011.  Alabama school lunch eligible tested 8th grade students scored 241 in 2007 and grew seven points to 248 in 2011.


            The performance in mathematics for 8th grade students in Louisiana showed a one point gain from 272 to 273 for all students, for free/reduced lunch eligible the change was one point from 264 to 265. 


Math scale scores in Kentucky’s 8th grade rose from 279 to 282 for all students, and from 267 to 271 for national school lunch eligible students; while in Alabama the math scale scores for all 8tg grade students went from 266 to 269, and for national school lunch eligible went from 250 to 256.  The national average was 280 in 2007 and 283 in 2011 for all students, and increased from 265 to 269 for free/reduced lunch eligible math-tested student.


Among 4th grade students tested in reading, Louisiana student scale scores rose three points from 207 to 210 in 2011.  National School Lunch eligible student scores rose from 2007’s score of 200 to 202 this year.  The national scale score for all students was unchanged from 220, while school lunch eligible tested students improved nationally from 205 to 207.  The scores in Kentucky were a gain of three points from 222 to 210 in 2011, and among school lunch eligible from 212 to 216.  The Alabama scores were 216 to 220 for all tested students, and 203 to 209 for lunch eligible 4th grade students.


The 2007 scale scores for all Louisiana 4th grade students tested in mathematics was 230, while school lunch eligible score was 225.  In 2011, the score of 225 in 2007 fell in 2011 to 224.  By contrast the national average score for all students was 239 in 2007 and rose a point in 2011.  Kentucky tested students scored 235 growing to 241 in 2011, and for lunch-eligible students the growth in Kentucky was from 226 to 232 in 2011.  Alabama student scored 239 in 2007 with their scores growing to 231 in 2011.  Free/reduced lunch eligible Alabama 4th grade students improved from 217 to 222.


Clearly Louisiana students, in 4th or 8th grade, are not improving at the rate of comparative jurisdictions.


How such scores are related to the reported gains in the Louisiana LEAP/iLEAP testing program remains to be seen. However, it may prove difficult to determine how any significant gains can be reported on the state testing when national tests reveal only marginal improvements.


The Louisiana Department of Education reported that in 2007, 4th grade English Language Arts LEAP-tested students recorded 74% at basic or above.  This year’s LEAP test results for 4th grade ELA testing produced 73% at or above basic and the same in mathematics.


                The fact that the gaps between Louisiana's subsets and the National Peer groups have widened and are at their largest gaps since 2003 is indicative of the failure of the "reformers", in general, and the Pastorek changes, in particular.