Baton Rouge, La — The percentage of Louisiana students scoring at the Basic level or above on standardized tests grew one point in grades 3-8, with 69 percent of students testing at Basic or above.
The number of students performing below their grade level has been reduced by nearly 5,000 and marks a nine percent increase in students above grade level statewide since 2008. Over that time, 67 districts of 70 total have made improvements.
This year's tests are the first in a series of annual assessments that are gradually increasing in rigor, so that Louisiana's students and schools are held to a standard equal to students nationally. On more difficult writing questions this year, students were challenged, seeing drops when compared to results on the previous year's writing questions.
Louisiana Believes reform initiatives contributed to academic progress across the state. The state-run Recovery School District in New Orleans saw the greatest improvement among districts, with six percent more students reaching Basic and above from 2012-2013. St. Bernard Parish, one of the state's most improved districts, piloted the Compass educator effectiveness system and has conducted two years of preparation for Common Core State Standard professional development for their teachers.
Charter schools made growth across the state that outpaced peer schools, improving by 2 points. Districts that have unified Head Start and district pre-kindergarten programs - Acadia, Calcasieu, Plaquemines, Sabine, and St. Charles, for example - averaged greater growth than districts not providing adopting this approach.
"It is critical that we put our students on a level playing field with all others across our country," said State Superintendent John White. "Improvements set in motion by the Governor, the legislature, and BESE are working. But the new levels of rigor ahead of us pose challenges. We have to keep the progress going. We cannot turn back."
"This year's results show improvement, and we are particularly pleased with the increased results of students in the RSD in New Orleans," said Chas Roemer, president of BESE, "There is, however, still a lot of work to be done across the board to achieve the even greater gains our students are capable of and the state needs."