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Students hop off a school bus on Highland Road near Lee Drive, Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

While education achievement remains low, public school changes in Louisiana since 2012 could hold lessons for other states, according to a report by the Rand Corp.

The study said efforts to streamline the early childhood system, improve curriculum, better train teachers and better prepare high school students for college or careers hold promise.

All of the changes have taken place during the tenure of state Superintendent of Education John White, who began the job in 2012.

The report noted that, under a relatively new policy, publicly-funded early childhood centers are subject to a state rating system.

It says changes in curriculum may be improving scores for students from upper-income families and rank-and-file white students.

The study says requiring aspiring teachers to spend one year in the classroom working with a veteran mentor enjoys support from schools and providers.

It also said applications for college aid is tops in the nation, the rate of minority and low-income students scoring in the top quartile on the ACT doubled in five years and the high school dropout rate has dropped.

However, the report also says early childhood advocates have complained about a lack of dollars to help finance the overhaul, and the student achievement gap may be widening.

"Despite these limitations, these early findings highlight important evidence regarding buy-in and support for an ambitious set of state policies as well as positive outcomes in a number of areas that Louisiana can continue to foster," Rand officials concluded.

The first words of the report acknowledge that Louisiana may appear to be an odd choice for other states to rely on.

"Historically the state of Louisiana has earned low marks when it comes to K-12 academic achievement," it says.

"Low kindergarten readiness rates, low national assessment scores, low college attainment rates and high unemployment rates among high school graduates have defined the state's education system for decades."


Email Will Sentell @wsentell@theadvocate.com.