State education leaders on Tuesday are unveiling their latest consumer tool for Louisiana families shopping for a public school.
It’s called Louisiana School Finder. It’s the new home for public school report cards but goes far beyond report cards of the past.
“This system is designed for families. All the information included is information families say they wanted,” said Sydni Dunn, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Education.
When public school letter grades are released on Tuesday, it will mark the end of a generous scoring system sparked mostly by the tougher acad…
The new website, louisianaschools.com, goes live Tuesday morning. That’s around the same time the Louisiana Department of Education is releasing annual performance scores and letter grades for public schools and school districts. Also being released are new performance profiles for child care centers.
Louisiana School Finder will have a range of information, well beyond what’s typically been included in traditional school report cards:
- Listings of course offerings, clubs, enrichment and extracurricular activities.
- School-level teacher information such as annual attendance and retention rates, as well as the racial diversity of the faculty. Information will also include percentages of certified teachers, except for charter schools which by law don’t have to hire certified teachers.
- Interactive tools to search for and compare schools.
That’s in addition to basic information about schools, including their addresses, locator maps, websites, hours of operation, and the principal or director's name.
Similar information will focus on the state’s hundreds of licensed child care centers. And there’s a link to a separate database of health and safety inspections of those same centers.
The new site also links to a web video on the letter grade system that the state uses to judge schools as well as a video explaining the numerical grades the state has started giving some child care centers. Centers that participate in the federally funded Child Care Assistance Program earn grades of up to 7 points.
Dunn said the new site’s inclusion of so much information on early childhood centers stands out.
“We’ve been able to confirm by talking with other states that Louisiana is the first state to offer an online tool of this sort to give information from birth all the way through grade 12,” she said.
The new website includes the information on school report cards such as assessment results, graduation rates and college enrollment. It also pulls in information the state Department of Education has collected for years but has heretofore not included in school report cards, information such as rates of out-of-school suspension, chronic absenteeism by students and student-to-computer-device ratios.
The site is reminiscent of EnrollNola, the home of OneApp, the government-run site families in New Orleans have used for years to apply to public schools in that city, a place replete with educational choices. But the new site is not limited to New Orleans and it includes information that site does not.
Louisiana School Finder is far from alone. Commercial services such as GreatSchools and SchoolDigger have long offered a range of online information about Louisiana schools, going beyond School Finder in certain respects.
Dunn said Louisiana School Finder is still a work in progress. She said it will be updated regularly and checked monthly for accuracy. Old information is still being loaded in and new features will be added over time, including data on the academic growth of students over time.
Louisiana's controversial plan to revamp its public schools has won federal approval, officials said Tuesday.
Dunn said the decisions about what to include and what not to include drew on the information gathered over the past year as Louisiana developed its implementation plan for the federal Every Child Succeeds Act. School data not included in School Finder remains available on the department’s main website, www.louisianabelieves.com. And old report cards are still at https://www.louisianabelieves.com/data/reportcards/.
“We put in everything that families prioritized, because we couldn’t publish everything,” she said.