For the second time, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) deferred action on a proposal that would strengthen Louisiana’s flawed K-12 public school accountability and rating system. While that’s disappointing, the good news is that approval is imminent.

For over a year, the board has been studying ways to more transparently report student achievement and school performance, motivate progress, and better align the system’s high school expectations with college and workplace expectations.

Roughly two-thirds of Louisiana’s public-school students are performing below proficiency levels in core academic subjects like English, math, science, and social studies. And year-after-year growth has been insufficient to raise Louisiana’s long-standing national ranking of 49th in education. Louisiana consistently boasts such poor rankings, yet somehow, seventy percent of Louisiana’s high schools are rated “A” or B.” According to the Louisiana Board of Regents, 27% of the state’s Class of 2021 who graduated from Louisiana public high schools needed remediation in English as college freshman, and 44% needed remediation in math. That means more time and money that students and families must spend learning what they should have learned in high school.

Some opposed to the accountability proposal, including local superintendents, have gone as far as defending Louisiana’s dismal educational outcomes:

We will never believe those outcomes are acceptable. We don’t expect Louisiana school leaders to accept them either. Louisiana is never going to get off the bottom of educational and other national rankings that researchers tie to education–like crime, health, and economic growth–until it dramatically improves the quality of education being provided to its children. True change starts with setting high expectations. It then requires support, transparent reporting of progress, and accountability for outcomes.

Our kids are capable of achieving at high levels. Our families and educators can get them there. We just need leadership and the resolve to get it done.

BESE president Jim Garvey challenged his fellow board members to come back on November 10th ready to put the needs of Louisiana’s kids first and set a new, higher bar. We believe they will, and Louisiana will be better off for it.