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State announces gain in first results of simplified scoring system for schools

State announces gain in first results of simplified scoring system for schools
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POSTED: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 1:30pm

UPDATED: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 12:45pm

The Department of Education today announced School Performance Scores (SPS) for the 2012-2013 school year, the first under a new system of scoring meant to simplify the scoring formula and raise standards for student achievement.

Under the new formula, letter grades are assigned on a simple scale - scores at or above 100 earn an "A" and scores below 50 earn an "F."

In addition, the new formula includes two important shifts:
• Align with higher standards to ensure postsecondary success. Schools no longer earn points for students below basic. In high schools, rigorous ACT, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate results are indicators of postsecondary readiness.
• Focus on students below grade level. A "bonus" system was created that rewards schools making great progress with persistently low-performing students both on state assessments at the elementary and middle school levels, and the ACT at the high school level.

Letter grade outcomes improved overall for the 2012-2013 school year because of record setting student achievement: 71 percent of students tested at Basic or above this year in ELA and math, graduation rates are at an all-time high, a record number of students earned college-entry ACT scores this year, and Louisiana students increased their AP participation more than any other state. As a result, Louisiana has more A and B schools than ever before with 14 percent of the state's public schools receiving an A, and 29 percent receiving a B. The number of failing schools is at an all-time low, decreasing from 12 percent to 8 percent.

"Changes made to the formula have led to real increases in student achievement," said Superintendent John White. "Students are reaping the benefits: fewer failing schools, higher graduation rates, more college credit earned, and more students qualifying for college admissions."

"With a record number of students showing improvement on state tests and a record number of schools earning an 'A' grade, the results are certainly very encouraging," said BESE President Chas Roemer. "It is a testament to the efforts of students and teachers that these gains were achieved according to the new higher performance standards."

Several trends in student achievement statewide connect directly to the new formula.

Fewer students are attending failing schools, with the Recovery School District-New Orleans and Orleans Parish schools seeing particularly dramatic reductions since 2005.
• Statewide, the number of failing schools decreased from 12 percent to 8 percent in 2013.
• In 2004-2005, 78 public schools in New Orleans, enrolling over 38,000 students, were failing on the state's standards. Today, only 9 schools in the city, enrolling 2,481 students, are failing.
• In New Orleans, only 5.7 percent of students now attend a failing school - down from 65 percent in 2005.
• 67 percent of students in New Orleans attend A, B, or C schools - up from 20 percent in 2005.

More students than ever are achieving gains on state assessments.
• 71 percent of students tested at Basic or above this year in ELA and math, an increase of more than 7,300 more students since 2012.

High school students are demonstrating greater levels of college and career readiness, including:
• A record number of students earned college-entry ACT scores this year. Nearly 3,600 more seniors earned a college-going score on the ACT.This represents a 20 percent increase in graduates with this opportunity over 2012.
• 60 percent of students are now scoring Good and above on End of Course tests - a 5 percent increase from 55 percent in 2012 - in grades 9 to 11.
• A record number of college credits earned by Advanced Placement students with a 25 percent increase in passing scores on exams - the largest increase of any state in the nation.
• Nearly 1,000 additional students graduating from high school in 2013 compared to 2012. This is a record number of students graduating from high school in four years (72.3 percent).

Even with the new formula, the distribution of school scores remained consistent with a steady increase in the number of schools improving from 2012 to 2013. 

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