More Details Released On LA Common Core Results

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Zachary Community School District led the state on Common Core-aligned tests given last spring, with 59 percent of its students achieving "mastery" of subject matter, according to figures released by the state Department of Education.

         Thursday's release of district and school scores follows last week's release of statewide results showing that only 22 to 40 percent of Louisiana public school students show what state officials consider "mastery" of their subject matter, depending on grade and subject matter.

         The state considers "mastery" the level at which students are ready for post-secondary education, State Education Superintendent John White reiterated in an afternoon news conference.

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         And while schools and districts can currently earn an "A'' grade in the state accountability system when the average score is the lower "basic" level, that bar will slowly be raised in the coming years: Schools and districts will have to average out at the "mastery" level to do that well in 2025.

         The tests administered in the spring to about 320,000 students in grades 3-8 were developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers to align with Common Core standards adopted by about 40 states. The PARCC tests are being used in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Some conservative critics say Common Core leads to federal intrusion in to education, while teacher unions and others in the education establishment have a range of criticisms about the tests and the state accountability system.

         White and a majority of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education support use of the standards and the tests. Use of the PARCC tests will give Louisiana a true means of comparing itself to other states using the same tests and standards, supporters of the tests say.

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         Next week, accountability system performance scores and letter grades for schools are to be released.

         Highlights from figures released Thursday:


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— In second place behind Zachary, in terms of the percentage of students achieving mastery or better, was the Orleans Parish School system. Although the system lost control of most of its schools to the state Recovery School District after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it kept several higher performing schools and now operates about two dozen schools.


— In statewide rankings based on this year's performance, Assumption Parish showed the greatest gains, moving from the 41st percentile last year to the 62nd, meaning it outperformed 62 percent of the state's districts. Vermilion Parish moved from the 58th to the 77th percentile.


— Although the department says 98.5 percent of eligible students took the PARCC test in the spring, some areas had higher rates of non-participation than others, owing to the Common Core controversy. The department said it will join BESE in developing a policy to address assessment of school quality where non-participation is a factor without giving unfair advantage to schools with higher numbers of non-participants.


         – by AP Reporter Kevin McGill

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