?”Unwelcomed” is the right word for news that schools are failing to meet new and higher performance standards. But it’s news that school officials must pay attention to.
“We realize today’s news is unwelcomed,” said Penny Dastugue, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The number of schools on the state’s academic warning list grew as a higher minimum score kicked in.
Unwelcomed is a good word for it, certainly from the standpoint of local school systems: More of their schools are not performing.
No one welcomes bad news.
But the fact is that many schools are failing to meet a minimum standard for classroom performance. Not a pie-in-the-sky standard, but a very basic level. When schools are labeled unacceptable academically, they trigger more scrutiny and intervention by the state and the local school board.
Including schools already taken over by the state, Louisiana has 79 public schools rated as academically unacceptable, up from 48 last year.
But if unwelcomed, the new minimum score is not some trick played on the schools. Performance scores are supposed to rise over time to push school improvements. BESE agreed to a modest increase in the minimum - from a score of 60 to a score of 65. The score will rise again in coming years, as it should.
The accountability system uses a cloud of numbers in every discussion of academic progress. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out, particularly as many people might think 65 out of 100 isn’t so bad - but that’s not the measurement in this case.
A school theoretically can score more than 200, so a score of 65 isn’t rigorous for a minimum standard.
The reality is that, on average, a school with a score of 65 has fewer than half of its students performing on grade level.
When probably 60 percent of students aren’t making the minimum standards in reading, writing and math, that’s not a statistical quirk. It’s a crisis in their young lives, because their chances for future success in life are seriously impaired.
If the news about schools not meeting new standards is unwelcomed, it’s necessary, because those schools aren’t providing their students with the intellectual resources to succeed.