Mike Deshotels, veteran educator, exposes the myth of high standards in Louisiana in this post. 

He discovered that John White, the State Superintendent of Education, has systematically and secretly lowered the state standards to make it appear that the state was making progress every year.

The raw scores on Louisiana’s state tests are kept secret from the public and the legislature. Deshotels got them by making public records requests backed up by 4 successful lawsuits that he won against John White for withholding public records. 

All anyone ever sees are the scale scores which seem to be stable, but the underlying raw scores change depending on what the LDOE wants them to show. So, White has now inflated the state test scores compared to NAEP by an average of 59% in just a few years.
As a result of his lawsuits, this is what Deshotels found. 
“Basically the Department of Education was allowed to set any standard they chose relative to the percentage of questions answered correctly. And they were also allowed to change that underlying percentage for passing without consultation from year to year. The passing standard has been quietly watered down over a period of years without the public or the legislature being informed. So at the end of the 2017-2018 school year my public records requests revealed that a student on average only needs to get about 30% of the questions right on their math and English tests in order to get a passing score. That’s just a little above what a student who knows absolutely nothing could attain with outright guessing….
”Even though 20% of students are repeatedly failing their state tests, public records reveal that only 1.8% of 4th and 8th graders are denied promotion. The truth is that the Louisiana Department of Education, using the latest BESE policy, expects our local school systems to promote basically all students to the next grade each year whether they have learned the material or not. Then the teachers in the next grade are magically supposed to teach them the new material in addition to what they did not learn in previous grades…
”As this blog explained in an earlier post, the improved graduation rate of Louisiana students is achieved using even more of the John White standards magic. Using the secret raw score standards implemented by John White, a student can pass his/her algebra I test by scoring only 15% correct answers. Geometry requires only 12% correct answers. English I can be passed by getting 17% of the questions right. Louisiana’s improved graduation rate was achieved by faking the stats….
“The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) is a national test that is considered the gold standard for measuring proficiency of students in 4th and 8th grade in reading and math. On the latest NAEP test given, only 26% of Louisiana 4th graders achieved a proficient rating in reading, only 27% of Louisiana 4th graders got a proficient rating in math, only 25% of Louisiana 8th graders got a proficient rating in reading, and only 19% of Louisiana students got a proficient rating in math. My analysis reveals that our state tests have been inflated an average of 59% in recent years compared to the NAEP tests…

”The latest NAEP test results which compare Louisiana student performance in reading and math to all other states places Louisiana at its lowest ranking ever. We now rank at the bottom of all state systems. The only area scoring lower on NAEP is Washington D.C.

“Don’t blame the students or the teachers. The fact is the Common Common core standards are so bad, so age inappropriate, so filled with stuff these kids will never use, that the tests should not be used for any purpose, much less the promotion and graduation of students. Meanwhile our students are being denied instruction in real world problems and truly useful reading and writing skills.”

Shocking as this is, John White may have learned this trick while he was working for the Bloomberg-Klein regime in New York City, where the same thing happened on the state tests. The State Education Department watered the passing standards down every year from 2006-09, and it magically appeared that there was steady, even dramatic progress. The scoring on the tests was changed so that the number of students who scored a 1 (the lowest) fell to the lowest number ever. Bloomberg was able to boast about the “New York City Miracle” during his 2009 re-election campaign. The miracle disappeared after he was re-elected, after the State Board of Regents brought in outside experts to review the results, and after the scoring was recalibrated. At the time, the chair of the State Board of Regents was Mayor Bloomberg’s good friend, billionaire Merryl Tisch.
You can read the story in my book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” pp.-78-79.
Here is the short version. The state began annual testing in 2006, and every year from 2006-09, the state made it easier to pass. “In 2006, significant numbers of New York City Students scored at level 1 and were subject to retention. The number of students at level 1 dropped so low that level 1 could hardly be considered a performance level. In 2006, 70,090 students in grades three through eight were at level 1 in mathematics; by 2009, that number had fallen to 14,305. In reading, the number of level 1 students fell from 46,085 to 11,755…In sixth-grade reading, 10.1 percent were at level 1 in 2006, but by 2009, only 0.2 percent were.”
Students in level 1 were denied promotion and entitled to remediation. Most were bumped from level 1 to level 2 by lowering the standards, thus allowing them to advance but denying them the remediation they needed.
The standards dropped so low that many students could reach level 2 by guessing.
A neat trick so long as no one notices.