BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - 44 percent of Louisiana's public schools have received a failing grade in the newest school performance scores.
The scores were made public during a news conference in New Orleans early Wednesday afternoon.
The state switched the ways schools are graded late last year. Rather than a numerical score, schools now get a grade of "A", "B", "C", "D", or F. 44 percent of schools received a "D" or "F" this year.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been briefed on the scores, the source says, and is said to be very disappointed. Jindal is expected to hold a news conference this afternoon to address the matter and call for reform.
The statistics released Wednesday were the usual mixed bag: There is measurable improvement in many places and in many categories. But, officials said the improvements aren't being made quickly enough. For example, about a third of students still aren't performing at what is labeled the "basic" level.
Each year, schools receive numerical scores known as School Performance Scores (SPS). School Performance Scores reflect two years of data and are calculated for K-6th grade schools using student test scores (90%) and attendance (10%). Schools with a 7th and 8th grade configuration receive an SPS based on attendance (5%), dropouts (5%) and student test scores (90%). High schools (grades 9-12) receive an SPS based on test scores (70%) and their Graduation Index (30%).
District Performance Scores and the State's Performance Score are a roll up of individual student scores on LEAP, iLEAP and GEE, as well as attendance, dropout and graduation outcomes – calculated using the same formula as School Performance Scores – but using only one year of data.
In 1999, Louisiana set a goal for every school in the state to earn an SPS of 100 or higher by 2009 and for every school in the state to achieve a performance score of 120 by 2014. Growth Goals and Targets are assigned to schools annually based on the success a school makes toward meeting its Growth Target for the previous year and represent the amount of progress a school must make every year to reach the state's SPS goal of 120 by the year 2014. The maximum amount of growth a school is required to make is 10 points, while the minimum amount is two points. Likewise, District and State Growth Goals and Targets are determined using the same method.
While letter grades are determined by the numeric scale set by BESE, whether a school receives a plus or minus or no symbol following its letter grade is determined by comparing their 2010 Baseline School Performance Score to their 2011 Growth Score. A plus sign (+) signifies a school has improved enough to meet their 2011 assigned Growth Target. A minus sign (-) indicates a school's 2011 Growth Performance Score has declined by at least one-tenth of a point from its 2010 Baseline Performance Score. If a school does not receive a plus (+) or minus (-) sign, it signifies the school has either shown no growth or in some cases, improved its Baseline Score, but not enough to meet its 2011 Growth Performance Goal.
Based on the grading scale adopted by BESE, in 2011 a top-performing school with an SPS of 120 or above will earn an A. Schools that have an SPS below 65 for the 2010-2011 school year will receive an F. While the scale will change in 2012, letter grades are assigned based on the following scale this year:
2011 Grading Scale
*Scale will change in 2012
East Baton Rouge Parish has three schools in the top 20. Baton Rouge Magnet High is ranked No. 2 in the state. LSU Lab School is No. 10 and Westdale Heights Magnet is No. 15.
However, the Capital area also saw three of its schools near the bottom of the list, specifically Tangipahoa Parish. Of the 650 public schools in the state, Tangipahoa Parish PM High School is ranked No. 646. Tangipahoa Alternative Programs is ranked slightly higher at 643. Valley Park School in EBR is ranked No. 639.
As far as districts go, the Zachary Community School District received an A. West Feliciana Parish, Central Community Schools, Ascension Parish and Livingston Parish all received Bs.
The most improved district in the state was the Recovery School District, which took over many failing schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Iberville Parish and the City of Baker School District were also in the top 10 most improved districts.
Louisiana's public school system is currently without a permanent leader. Former Louisiana School Superintendent Paul Pastorek resigned earlier this year. A permanent replacement for Pastorek has not yet been named.