Posted: Jan 13, 2012 9:12 AM by AP
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A national education publication's annual ranking of state education efforts is again a mixed bag for Louisiana, with high scores for standards and accountability but a failing grade for overall student achievement in grades kindergarten through 12.
Education Week released the results of its annual "Quality Counts" survey on Thursday, giving Louisiana an overall grade of 77.2 - or a C-plus. It was little changed from last year's 77.6 and slightly higher than the national average of 76.5. The state ranked No. 23 nationwide.
The state gets an A from the survey under the heading of "Standards, Assessments and Accountability." But under K-12 achievement, the score is 59.1, marking the second year in a row the state got an F in that category. Among the factors is performance on National Assessment for Educational Progress tests given to fourth- and eighth-graders.
The rankings were released the day after two key changes in public education governance in Louisiana. A new state superintendent of education, John White, was approved Monday by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. White is a former New York City school official who last year took over as head of the Recovery School District - the state agency that took over most New Orleans public schools after Hurricane Katrina and also is overseeing poorly performing schools in other parts of the state.
"Our overall C-plus grade is higher than the national C average," White said in a news release. "And we're making incremental gains. But the F Louisiana earned for Achievement, which represents the academic progress of our students, underscores the urgency of our work, the critical need for reform, and the need to focus our efforts and dialogue on raising student achievement."
White tapped Patrick Dobard on Wednesday as the new head of the Recovery School District, pending BESE approval. Dobard, a native of New Orleans, is a former teacher and was on the state education department's staff before coming to the RSD.
The rankings also could bolster Gov. Bobby Jindal's plans for education changes in this year's legislative session. Jindal has supported the state accountability program, which includes mechanisms for state takeovers of failing schools that do not improve. However, he also has made it clear that he wants more changes. He helped the campaigns of several BESE members in last year's elections and strongly supported White for the top education post.
The governor hasn't yet detailed his legislative plans, but lawmakers expect those plans to include a push for the expansion of a limited voucher program in New Orleans.