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May 26, 2010 4:12 PM by Melissa Canone

Increased LEAP Failure Rate in Both 4th & 8th Grades

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - More of Louisiana's public school
students failed the state's high-stakes LEAP test this spring than
they did a year earlier, according to the latest results released
Wednesday by the state education department.
Seventy-three percent of Louisiana's fourth- and eighth-graders
passed the test, which is required for promotion to the next grade
- a decrease from 74 percent in 2009.
The test is officially known as the Louisiana Education
Assessment Program exam. Students take the LEAP test in the spring
to measure abilities in English, math, science and social studies.
Students' performance in the English and math portions determine
whether they pass.
"There are clearly some areas where we did not grow or we fell
back. We're already studying these with the aim of providing
targeted improvement where it is needed," Superintendent of
Education Paul Pastorek said in a statement released with the
scores.
The increased LEAP failure rate was in both the fourth and
eighth grades. Twenty-four percent of fourth-graders failed the
test this spring, up from 23 percent in 2009, and 30 percent of
eighth-graders failed, an increase from 28 percent last year.
One of the bright spots in the LEAP scores involved the
state-run public schools in New Orleans, in the Recovery School
District. Though student scores were lower than the statewide
average, the percentage of students passing the test grew
significantly. Fifty-eight percent of fourth-graders passed this
spring, up from 54 percent last year, and 50 percent of
eighth-graders passed, compared to 41 percent in 2009, according to
the data.
To pass the test, students are required to score "basic" in
either English or math and "approaching basic" in the other
subject.
Despite the slip, state education leaders focused Wednesday on
the overall growth in students' standardized test scores across all
grades, not just the tests required for promotion. Only fourth- and
eighth-graders take a test that determines whether they can move
on.
Students in the third, fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth grades
take the state's iLEAP test, which tests performance. Meanwhile,
10th- and 11th-graders take the Graduate Exit Exam and must pass it
at some point in high school to receive a diploma, but the GEE
doesn't determine if students get promoted to the next grade.
When all the standardized test scores are combined, students
made modest improvements, with 65 percent of them scoring at the
"basic" level or above. That's compared to 64 percent a year ago,
according to the data from the Louisiana Department of Education.
"Clearly, we must have better results, but the overall
improvements we're seeing in our test scores this year underscore
Louisiana's continuous progress and reaffirm our direction,"
Pastorek said.
The percentage of students reaching "basic" or above in math
on the GEE stayed flat at 73 percent, while the students reaching
the same mark in the English portion of the test grew to 65
percent, a boost from 62 percent in 2009.

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