New LEAP Scores: Student Achievement in Louisiana Improving, Still Not Fully Recovered from COVID Pandemic

New LEAP Scores: Student Achievement in Louisiana Improving, Still Not Fully Recovered from COVID Pandemic

Last week, the Louisiana Department of Education released the results of the 2022-2023 Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP), which measures student learning in public schools across the state in third grade through high school. Individual student results are used to inform families and educators about the extent to which students mastered or fell short in learning key concepts in English language arts, math, science, and social studies. Aggregate results are used to inform communities and taxpayers about the performance of local public schools and also to formally designate schools that need improvement and must follow state-required interventions.

Statewide Results

According to the results, one-third (33 percent) of Louisiana students are on grade level in the four key subjects. This is the number of students scoring “Mastery” or above on the tests, the level that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education defines as “proficient.” The Board’s regulations state that “students performing at this level have met college and career readiness expectations, and are prepared for the next level of studies in this content area.”

The new results put the state just one point shy of returning back to pre-COVID pandemic levels (2019), as shown below.

Which school systems improved?

Twenty school systems have now reached or surpassed their pre-pandemic (2019) performance; only three have exceeded it.

A total of 24 school systems out of 69 total had fewer than 25 percent of students achieving proficiency on the latest test.

The overall distribution of 2022-2023 results shows Ascension Parish at the top with 51 percent proficiency. Only two other school systems—Central Community Schools and West Feliciana School System—have half of their students meeting the bar.

Seventy-five percent of school systems showed improvement from 2021-2022. The list can be viewed here.

The top ten schools showing improvement—a list consisting of traditional, charter, and alternative schools across the state—achieved impressive growth of 12-18 percentage points in one year.

What happens now?

One bright spot in the results was a strong rebound in the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency in third grade English language arts (ELA), which had significantly declined after the pandemic.

The state’s fourth graders posted impressive ELA gains as well, improving six percentage points above their performance as 3rd graders in 2021-2022. Thanks in large part to policies enacted by the legislature and the state education board, teachers across the state will continue receiving intensive training and supports in the most effective ways to teach reading and help struggling students. Those efforts are expected to help even more students improve just as other states like Mississippi have experienced after making literacy a priority, particularly in the early grades.

The news isn’t so good in math, where students continue to experience declines as they progress from one grade level to the next throughout elementary and middle school. Last school year, 36 percent of third graders demonstrated proficiency and math, but students in grades five through eight posted steady declines all the way down to 24 percent proficiency in 8th grade. State officials have proposed a heightened focus on math or “early numeracy” just as the state has done with “early literacy” over the past few years and hopes this will produce positive results just like the improved reading scores above.

The Department announced it plans to provide the 25 percent of school systems that did not improve with additional training in reading and math, enhanced coaching, and required engagement with the agency’s School Improvement Division as a condition for receiving certain funding going forward.

Giving all kids access to a school that fits their individual needs and enables them to reach their full potential must be a priority for Louisiana, whether it’s in a traditional public, public charter, private, or home-based school. Learn more about how Louisiana can support students and their families through a quality education and other state policies focused on increasing opportunity in Pelican’s Comeback Agenda.

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