Less than half of Louisiana students are on track to master important math, reading and writing skills, according to a new report from the Louisiana Department of Education.
In past years, Louisiana schools have been evaluated based on how many students passed their state standardized tests. That’s how schools get their letter grades. This year, the school letter grades will take into account the progress students are making.
Assistant State Superintendent, Jessica Bahgian, says the new measure captures the work teachers are putting in to catch up students who are behind, or push students who are ahead.
"Another way to describe it is to say, 'How much did a student progress from Day 1 of school to Day 180?' This is often how educators think about their work from year to year," she said on a conference call Wednesday with reporters.
The state's goal is for more students to be in the "top growth" category. Students can show top growth in one of two ways: they are either on track to pass their tests by the end of 8th grade or end of high school; or if their scores grew faster than peers with similar advantages or challenges. Statewide, 46 percent of students are showing top growth. Students grew faster in reading and writing than in math.
The state will use the growth data as part of the school letter grades, which come out later this fall. This year's school letter grades will also be different because students will have to score higher than in past years to be considered on grade level. The changes are part of the state's plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind.