Editorial: State’s education system still has long way to go

Louisiana public school students made, in most instances, marginal improvement on several fronts in 2012.

And while the gains deserved some applause, the numbers underscore just how far the state’s public education system has to


According to the Louisiana Department of Education, improvement by students from 2011 to 2012 included:

54 percent of students deemed kindergarten ready, up from 52 percent.

56 percent of third-graders passing both the math and English portions of the iLEAP test, up from 54 percent.

44 percent of eighth-graders passing both the math and English portions of the LEAP tests, up from 43 percent.

72 percent of high school seniors graduating, up from 71 percent.

40 percent of ninth-graders passing the Explore test, a pre-ACT test, up from 20 percent.

‘‘Louisiana has accomplished great

things for children over the last year, due to the hard work and

dedication of those closest

to students, educators and families,’’ said state Superintendent

of Education John White. ‘‘This report applauds those successes

and lays out the state’s plan to continue this type of


The president of a teachers’ union,

Joyce Haynes of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said White’s

praise for public

school teachers in long overdue. If that sounds catty, it

underscores the continued rift between White and Gov. Bobby Jindal

and public school teachers and administrators. Those teachers who

continue to man the classrooms are still smarting from not

having any input in the new teacher evaluations which some believe

are unfair and inaccurate.

The state has been widely praised

by national groups for making teacher tenure much harder to achieve,

imposing Compass teacher

evaluations that tenure will be linked to and beginning efforts to

reform and apply standards for early childhood education


But there’s also potential trouble on the horizon. The upcoming school year marks the final preparation before Common Core,

a more stringent set of standards in math and English, is implemented by the Louisiana Department of Education.

That could lead to a sizable dip in the scores of Louisiana students. As noted above, many of those scores fall well below

what most observers would consider acceptable.

Simply put, the state’s public education system still has a lot of ground to cover to compete with its peers across the nation.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.