Transparent School Accountability is Critical to Louisiana’s Recovery
It’s time to get serious about how our education system is preparing students for their futures. Following decades of reform and incremental progress, our state continues to perform at the bottom of the country. About two-thirds of Louisiana’s public school students are not on grade level, performing less than what is considered “proficient” in core subjects like English, reading, math, science, and social studies. That’s just unacceptable. We can and must do better.
We believe that redesigning the state’s accountability system is the first step in motivating growth and accurately communicating performance of schools to parents and communities. While the system has been strengthened over the years and includes several components that reflect legitimate state priorities, it’s not strong enough. It rewards schools for student outcomes that fall well below proficiency levels, which likely contributes to the slow pace of academic growth relative to other states. The system also remains incredibly complex and confusing for parents and the public who struggle to understand whether schools are effectively preparing students for the next grade level and ultimately for college and careers.
In this period of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and numerous natural disasters, Louisiana has an opportunity to rebuild its K-12 educational system not just to pre-pandemic, pre-disaster levels, but to set Louisiana firmly on a path to providing children with a public education that is on par with or exceeds that of their peers nationally. To do this, we believe a new state K-12 education accountability system should be established, and that it should:
- Set high expectations for academic performance at proficiency or above (on grade level/on track) that is comparable to peers nationally;
- Motivate school progress toward expectations in a simple and transparent way;
- Provide easy-to-understand public reporting that is consistent with how student performance is graded; and
- Embed an automatic increasing of expectations until such time school performance reaches desired outcomes.
Let’s make this recovery a true comeback story and put Louisiana on a path toward real success, both for our students and for the future of our state.