Archives for category: Louisiana

A new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Louisiana high marks on providing choice but low marks for academics. It should be noted that Louisiana has higher levels of child poverty than other states, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not go into that.

“A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce report gives Louisiana’s public education system very low marks on academic achievement, international competitiveness, workforce preparation and bang for the buck. It flunked Louisiana in five of 11 categories, with a D+ in the sixth.

“The state’s low academic standing has been widely documented. However, the chamber says its report has a particular focus on the 21st century workforce.

“Louisiana did see some gains. Scores went up on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2013, especially for low-income and minority students. But compared to other states, Louisiana was still at the bottom. The state’s 2013 Advanced Placement pass rate was worse than any state except Mississippi.

“Pass rates were even lower in subjects that the chamber considers important for the 21st century economy: only 30 in 10,000 students passed a foreign language AP test, and 4 in 10,000 passed the AP computer science test.

“When measured against an international exam, the Programme for International Student Assessment, fewer than 20 percent of Louisiana students met the global standard in reading and mathematics.

“The chamber gave Louisiana a failing grade on “return on investment.” After controlling for the cost of living, the chamber’s report says, “student achievement in Louisiana is very low relative to state spending,” which is about at the national median.

“The chamber released the report card Thursday. The research was conducted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“Given Louisiana’s poor national and international standing, the chamber found the state’s internal testing results dubious and lacking in credibility. In 2011, pass rates for Louisiana’s LEAP and iLEAP tests were much higher than the national rates. That gave an inaccurately rosy picture of student performance, said the chamber, which awarded a D-plus for “truth in advertising.”

The state got an A for parental choice. As we have seen in numerous earlier reports, many children use state vouchers to attend schools with no curriculum and uncertified teachers. Maybe all that choice is dragging down academic outcomes. But “even some of the better grades were lower than in the chamber’s previous report. In 2007, chamber researchers gave Louisiana an A for teaching, a C for the credibility of its own test pass rates and an A for data collection. It gave the state a B for the rigor of its academic standards, praising its English benchmarks and graduation exit exam.” Under John White, the state is losing ground.

Hmm, I seem to recall that Louisiana was the state that was #1 on StudentsFirst report card, probably because of vouchers and charters.

State superintendent John White thinks that Common Core and its hard tests is the cure-all for low performance. Rigor. Harder tests. That’ll raise performance. Kind of like an athlete who can’t jump a 4-ft bar. Raise it to 6 feet. That’ll do it.

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia wants a statewide Recovery School District, just like Louisiana. He wants to be like Bobby Jindal. He wants all the low-performing schools turned into charters, just like Néw Orleans.

Won’t someone tell him that most of the charters–excluding those with selective admissions–are rated D or F by the state? Won’t someone tell him that the RSD in Louisiana is one of the lowest performing districts in the state? Perhaps he could invite Charles Hatfield or Dr. Barbara Ferguson of NOLA’s “Research on Reforms” to brief him. Or talk to Professor Kristen Buras of Geirgia State University, who just published a book debunking “the Néw Orleans miracle.” Or read Mercedes Schneider on the Néw Orleans story.

See, Governor Deal has a problem, and his name is Jason Carter. Jason is the grandson of President Jimmy Carter. More than that, his children are enrolled in public schools. His wife taught in a public high school. He wants to improve Georgia’s public schools, not privatize them.

Deal and Carter are tied in the polls. Deal thinks he can win by promising to hand schools over to entrepreneurs.

I’m for Jason.

A district court judge in Baton Rouge ordered State Superintendent John White to release information about setting cut scores.

Veteran educator Mike Deshotels posted this on his blog:

“Breaking News: On Thursday, August 28, Judge Bob Downing of the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge ordered State Superintendent John White and the LDOE to produce detailed information about the setting of cut scores for the Mastery level student ratings for the 2014 Spring LEAP test that was designed to be more aligned with the Common Core standards. The LDOE had already released the minimum percentages of correct answers used for the setting of Basic level ratings just before the lawsuit demanding this information was filed. John White was found to be in violation of the public records law for refusing to release the score setting percentages on the 2014 LEAP test and for failing to produce the written communications with the testing company relating to the setting of cut scores. The LDOE was also required to pay all court costs and attorney’s fees necessary to the prosecution of my public records lawsuit filed to extract this vital information from White, the LDOE, and the testing company. This post on The Louisiana Educator Blog had already analyzed the drastic lowering of the minimum percentage of correct answers on some areas of LEAP apparently designed to imply that Louisiana students were doing just fine on the new CCSS aligned tests. Apparently manipulation of test scores to produce predetermined results has now become standard operating procedure in the implementation of Common Core. The video referred to above shows how scores were set in New York to create the perception of failure of the entire New York state system.”

It is striking and sad that judges are now deciding basic education issues or that people have to appeal to judges to get basic information that ought to be available to the public.

Mercedes Schneider, high school teacher, debates Common Core with a state representative and a representative of the pro-voucher group Black Alliance for Educational Options. Mercedes explains who BAEO is, then engages in 6 minutes of debate in which the two men were pro-Common Core and Mercedes was critical. Does 2 vs. 1 sound unbalanced? At least there was some disagreement. A few days ago, there was a well-publicized forum on Common Core that included Merryl Tisch, chair of the Board of Regents; John King, state commissioner; Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers; Carmen Farina, Chancellor of the New York City public schools; and one or two others. Every member of the panel supported Common Core. Some debate.

Veteran educator Michael Deshotels filed a public records request last June to find out how the state tests were scored. The state claimed that the tests were harder but the scores held steady. Deshotels got the records and concluded that the state had manipulated the scoring of the tests.

He writes:

“It turns out that the number of correct answers required for a passing score (or a level of basic) was significantly reduced for three out of four categories of the LEAP high stakes testing. Once one knows how the passing scores are routinely manipulated it’s no surprise that the percentage of students scoring basic or above remained steady. The test grading scale for LEAP was adjusted or “equated” (to use the lingo of testing experts), apparently to make certain that the perceived performance of students on the new Common Core aligned tests remained steady.”

Crazy Crawfish (aka Jason France, who was a data analyst for the Louisiana Department of Education) wrote a post about the same scores called “Standardized Lying.”

He writes:

“Student performance in Louisiana is dropping rapidly. The decline started just about the time John White became superintendent of Education and has accelerated rapidly with the introduction of Common Core in Louisiana schools. Based on a sample analysis of the very meager data LDOE finally released under threat of lawsuit it is clear that not only is student performance not increasing or staying steady, it Is in fact declining, and being masked by a lowering of the number of correct answers required to pass LEAP and iLEAP tests….

“I don’t have magical powers, but I can confidently predict this is something you will find and see happening across the nation, especially in education Reformer infested territories. There is nothing standardized about the testing of Common Core, the only standardization comes in in the form of lying about it.

“Proponents of Common Core, and the High Stakes testing required by it, have claimed the comparability of test scores across states will make for meaningful comparisons. To have this meaningful comparison, all states must teach the same curriculum and all must administer identical tests from one of the two federally funded consortiums (Smarter Balanced and PARCC). However neither consortium controls the cut scores; those are entirely in the control of the states. These scores can go up or down as local politics require.

“Let me spell this out for you. If you want to show progress in your state you can artificially inflate the scores to show improvement. If you need to make a case for more charter schools and school closures simply lower the scores and take them over and then raise the score back to show that reform worked. That is exactly what Louisiana has done and no doubt other reform markets as well. The actual data shows the Reforms, including Common Core, have had the exact opposite effect, and a very dramatic one.
Even though the proposed tests are identical, even though the curriculum is identical, the actual scores and their meanings are left up to individual states to determine. That fact nullifies the argument for identical standardized tests and even the need for a standardized curriculum. Our scores, our levels of achievement, will not be and are not comparable to scores in other states. These tests are actually the opposite of comparable. NAEP and DEIBELS are national tests that are comparable, and neither of them requires a standardized curriculum nor extensive, expensive, technology intensive, obsessive testing, like Common Core does.”

Crazy Crawfish (aka Jason France, who was a data analyst at the Louisiana Department of Education) offers a fascinating insight into the political machinations behind Governor Bobby Jindal’s effort to ditch the Common Core.

Jindal was an enthusiastic supporter of CC until last June, when he suddenly became an opponent. The state commissioner of education, John White, a steadfast ally of Jindal, announced that he would fight the governor. The state board of education joined White, including two of Jindal’s appointees.

In Louisiana, Jindal is known as a governor who does not tolerate disloyalty. He swiftly punishes dissidents in his ranks. Yet no one of Jindal’s former allies faced retribution for opposing him. Something smelled fishy.

Then came the trial of Jindal vs. White on the Common Core, and Jindal’s lawyer didn’t call any witnesses. Jason France thinks he threw the fight. He thinks the fix is in. Jindal doesn’t want to get rid of the Common Core, he wants to appear to be trying because Common Core is a liability among the conservative voters that Jindal needs for his presidential aspirations.

France concludes:

“The chaos we are experiencing was intentionally fomented by John White, Chas Roemer and Bobby Jindal to distract people and wear them out. This betrayal was planned.

“Sadly, this is just another ruse perpetrated by those in power to avoid listening to parents’ real problems, and another reason parents are right to fear and fight Common Core. I expect this distraction to last until Jindal leaves office. John White and Chas Roemer were correct when they stated Jindal’s opposition to Common Core was politically motivated. The irony is that they were quite likely complicit in the deception from the get-go; to increase all of their profiles. That ploy has worked. Now we get to decide if their profiles are ultimately positively or negatively impacted by this fiasco.”

A Louisiana judge ruled against Governor Jindal in his efforts to dump Common Core and PARCC.

Mercedes Schneider read the court decision and concludes that Jindal lost in court against proponents of Common Core because his lawyer didn’t make a good case. She says he better get a better legal team or be prepared to lose again.

It is hard to remember who is suing whom in Louisiana. Fortunately we have Mercedes Schneider to keep us updated on the three different lawsuits, each of which is pursuing a different issue related to the Common Core and the PARCC tests.

Try to remember this: as a high school teacher, Schneider is no fan of Common Core and PARCC. She is also no fan of Jindal or White. Jindal used to be a fan of Common Core a and White, but a few months ago, he decided to withdraw Louisiana from the Common Core. State Commissioner John White and the state board–most of whom were Jindal allies–are loyal to the Common Core and the tests.

Now with all that context, read the post.

Blogger Crazy Crawfish (aka Jason France) writes that the Recovery School District is a failure. Residents of New Orleans were promised that the RSD would improve schools and return them to their home parishes. It has not returned a single school. Why weren’t the reformers honest at the outset, he wonders? Why didn’t they say that their goal was to privatize the district, get rid of the union and experienced teachers, and turn every school into a charter?

He writes:

“If your state is considering something like the RSD, tell them no. You tell them it was a complete failure in Louisiana and RSD got out of the business of being RSD in New Orleans. At least make them admit their real goal is to close all public schools and open them as charter schools. Make them tell you what their real plan is, but don’t let them tell you that the RSD plan is a template for anything but failure. If I had to give RSD a letter grade, like the state gives all schools and districts in the state, I would give them an F. But I can’t. They are so bad, they don’t even exist. The RSD was a lie and charter schools were the switch. And just like the result of most bait and switch tactics, charter schools are more expensive, they aren’t what we needed or signed up for and probably won’t last very long before we need to replace them with something else even more expensive – but the salesmen are pretty happy.”

The Iberville Parish school board decided to sue the state when it learned of the state’s plan to divert a sizable portion of the district’s basic funding to a new, for-profit charter school.

“The Iberville Parish School Board decided Monday it would fight to retain more than $3.8 million in state funding by suing the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“The school district is seeking an injunction to stop BESE from funneling the state Minimum Foundation Program funding to a new charter school, which opened on Monday, until the matter can be heard in court.

“The board made the decision during its regular meeting Monday night at the recommendation of Superintendent Ed Cancienne, who previously called the opening of the Iberville Charter Academy “an intrusion on the school district’s rights and tax money.”

“Chief Financial Officer Jolain Landry said the Iberville Parish School System was set to receive more than $15.8 million in funding from the state’s Department of Education for the 2014-15 school year. But the district received notice over the summer that approximately $3.8 million of the money was instead being allocated to the Iberville Charter Academy, she said.”

Members of the local board were outraged by the raid on their Minimum Foundation Funding and suggested that it was inspired by campaign contributions:

““This parish shouldn’t have to suffer; to take our local dollars to support a private business and make a profit off of our kids in this parish, it’s not right,” board member Brian Willis said before voting Monday.

“Board member Nancy Broussard chided the Education Department for allowing the charter school to receive MFP funding based on enrollment projections instead of actual student counts. She also berated the department for giving charter schools more lax accountability standards compared to public schools.

“Board member Tom Delahaye called charter schools a hoax and theorized the state’s push to welcome charter schools into local districts was being driven by campaign contributions.

“Delahaye presented to the board a print-out from the state’s Ethics Administration Program website showing itemized campaign contributions from Charter Schools USA, the company managing the Iberville Charter Academy, to BESE members and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“Charter Schools USA has given right at $25,000 in campaign contributions in the past three years,” he said. “This for-profit organization is giving them money to buy influence to set up a school in our parish and take advantage of our children — that’s what’s happening here.”

The Parish board voted 12-2 to sue the state. One of the two dissenters said she was not opposed to the suit but wanted other local boards to share the cost of litigation.

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