Louisiana test scores increase for 2nd year, still below pre-pandemic levels
The latest round of test scores are out for Louisiana schools — and they show growth.
While students across the country have struggled to recover academically since the pandemic, Louisiana has been on a sort of upswing along with fellow Gulf states Mississippi and Alabama.
The state led the country in reading gains for fourth graders last year, something officials attribute to the state’s focus on the science of reading and student monitoring.
Results on recent state exams released Wednesday show similar progress.
For the first time in five years, third grade scores in English increased. Statewide 43% of students achieved mastery on the test, up from 38% the year before.
The overall mastery rate for all students, across all subjects rose two points to 33% — still a point lower than it was before the pandemic. Students in grades 3-12 sit for LEAP exams every spring in English, math, science and social studies.
State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said the gains are worth celebrating, but the state still has a long way to go.
“Clearly we recognize that too many students in Louisiana aren’t mastering content,” Brumley said. “We have to work with urgency and focus right there to make sure we get those overall proficiency numbers up.”
According to last school year’s test scores, 75% of school systems, including New Orleans and East Baton Rouge, showed improvement. Still, there are just a handful of districts where the majority of students scored mastery or above across all subjects. Only one third of students statewide have mastered the state’s curriculum.
New Orleans saw its overall mastery rate increase by 3%, making it one of the top improving districts in the state. But at 24%, it’s still far below school systems considered top performing, like nearby St. Tammany and Plaquemines parishes.
Both saw 45% of students score mastery or higher across all subjects. Just three districts in the state posted higher scores: Ascension with 51% mastery, followed by Central Community and West Feliciana with 50%, and Zachary Community one point below them.
St. Charles Parish saw 42% of students master all subjects. The rate is high compared to the rest of the state, but is a four-point decline for the district compared to 2019.
In St. Bernard Parish, 35% of students scored mastery or above, followed by 28% in Jefferson and 19% in St. John the Baptist.
Baton Rouge saw its public school system’s mastery rate grow two points, to 27%.
Brumley said moving forward the state plans to pay more attention to math, the way it’s recently focused on reading.
Students in Louisiana post lower test scores in math the older they get, as they approach eighth grade and enter high school.
Last year’s results show 36% of third graders mastered math content compared to 24% of eighth graders, roughly the same percentages as the year before.
“We are going to spend some additional time looking at this, but we know it’s a systemic issue across the state and the nation.”