Louisiana's controversial plan to revamp public schools, which is awaiting federal action, won praise Tuesday from two independent education groups.

The proposed changes, which were approved by the state's top school board on March 29 after a six-hour hearing, were submitted to the U.S. Department of Education in April for review.

"Louisiana has put together a very strong plan that all Louisianians should be proud of," Jim Cowen, executive director of the Collaborative for Student Success, said in a statement.

Cowen's group teamed with Bellwether Education Partners to rate the plans of 17 states that submitted their proposals in April.

Officials said 30 bipartisan state and national experts studied proposals by Louisiana and others, then rated them in nine areas.

The plan, which was pushed by state Superintendent of Education John White, won top marks in two subjects, the second highest scores in six other categories and concerns in one.

White's plan changes how public school letter grades are figured, trims testing and devotes some federal education dollars to struggling public schools in rural areas.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the changes over objections from Gov. John Bel Edwards, principals and others who wanted to submit it in September, not April.

The two education groups rated state plans on a scale of 1-5, with 5 the top score.

Louisiana got top marks for its school goals and identifying schools and students groups most in need of assistance.

The goals include gains of 2.5 percentage points per year from 2018-25 in the number of students rated proficient.

The plan earned 4's in standards and assessments, accountability indicators, incentives for student growth, oversight of subgroups, intervention for troubled schools and how ongoing school improvement plans can be adjusted.

"The state's plan goes well beyond the minimal federal requirement to identify low-performing schools, and the state has shown an impressive commitment to significantly raising its expectations over time," according to the report.

When federal officials will rule on the state's proposal is unclear.

The changes take effect for the 2017-18 school year.

They include a new policy that allows yearly academic growth to count for 25 percent of school performance scores, and applies to all students.

Those gains now count for 7 percent of the score, and only apply to struggling students.

One area in the report that raised alarms is how the state would end support for troubled schools.

The plan says that, once a subgroup of students avoids an F for two consecutive years, the state intervention would end.

The report says that implies acceptance of a D for some students, which it called unambitious.

Backers of Louisiana's blueprint have said it will inject needed rigor into classrooms.

Critics said the proposal was rushed and that more time would have allowed for compromises on testing and other areas.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.