LEAP test results offer peek at ESSA progress

Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White addressed updates to the state’s implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act in light of the upcoming November release of school report cards in a news conference on Thursday.

The state adopted its new plans in the 2017-2018 school year and began on a 10-year path towards raised expectations for student achievement.

Families have already seen some of ESSA’s updates with August’s LEAP results which documents student progress from year to year. Now, students’ yearly progress will be reflected in 25 percent of a school’s performance score. White said the weight of student progress within the school accountability formula could potentially positively affect schools with high populations of struggling but growing students and may potentially negatively impact historically high performing schools.

This year’s school report cards will also reflect the state’s commitment to the gradual attainment of “higher expectations for the essential performance level of every student,” said White. Under the new plan, by 2025, the standard for a school to attain an “A” rating will be mastery performance including the scoring of “mastery” on state exams, average ACT scores of 21 or higher, the earning of AP or advanced credentials and high graduation rates.

Report cards will also now define student populations that have persistently struggled with achievement. The state will identify struggling subgroups along racial, economic, disability and home language lines and require schools and districts to submit improvement plans for the labeled “in need of urgent intervention” populations.

“You can be an ‘A’ rated school but if your English learners are not developing basic proficiency in reading or mathematics and actually are themselves deeply struggling year after year, the state for the first time is going to identify that.”

White admitted that such “major shifts” will affect schools and districts that are accustomed to earning an “A” rating. “As we raise our expectations to be competitive on a national level, it will be more challenging for “A” rated schools and districts to maintain that A this first year of implementation.”

In light of the increased difficulty of the formula, school report cards will also show how schools would’ve fared under the old formula in order to uphold stakeholder confidence. White said publishing such data will communicate to the public that LDOE acknowledges the state is in a transitional era, however, he said, “Over time, I have no doubt that schools will rise to the occasion.”

White ended announcing the LDOE’s launch of a new super application whereby districts can use one application to apply for multiple distributions of federal aid for improvement plans. “Districts and charter schools should be able to plan in a way that is coherent for schools, eliminates bureaucracy and cuts through red tape… The Super App will allow local superintendents and their teams to create one plan of support using all federal dollars to support that one plan.”

Louisiana school report cards and statewide performance data will be publicly available on Nov. 8.

””Every Student Succeeds Act – ESSA

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