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Advocate file photo of State Superintendent of Education John White talking at the annual meeting in Jump Start in January of 2018.

Annual letter grades for public schools will be released on Nov. 8, state Superintendent of Education John White said Thursday.

The always-sensitive issue will carry extra significance this time since how the state rates schools has changed and grades are expected to drop.

The grades and accompanying school performance scores spell out how students fared on key tests and other measurements.

The new formula will make it harder for schools and districts to land an A-rating.

Under the revamped system, schools will also get letter grades that show how they did under the current and former formula.

The new rigor is aimed at making students more competitive with their counterparts nationally.

But the Legislature enacted a law this year that requires two grades for each school, largely because of concerns on how parents and others will react when top marks plunge amid tougher rules.

The number of F-rated schools is expected to rise by 57 percent and those with A ratings drop by 38 percent, according to a 2017 analysis by the state Department of Education.

White said Thursday that "over time the schools will rise to the occasion" but as academic expectations are raised to be nationally competitive earning an A will be more difficult.

About 700,000 students attend public schools statewide.

Some local superintendents have made an effort to spell out to parents how the rating system has been changed in advance of the release.

Under the revised reviews, schools will also be measured on how students progressed from the previous year, regardless of achievement levels.

White said even A-rated schools will be required to submit improvement plans if English learners, those with disabilities or other subgroups perform poorly.

Schools that suspend students at twice the national rate will be required to spell out to state officials how local officials plan to address the problem.

Under Louisiana's system, schools are placed in one of five categories: advanced, mastery, basic, approaching basic and unsatisfactory.

A school will have to have its students average mastery by 2025 to earn an A.

The previous standard was basic, which critics said inflated school performance.

In response to a question, White said the grades will be released on Nov. 8 because that is when they will be ready, and that it is the typical time of the year to roll out scores.

He said the fact elections will be held on Nov. 6 had nothing to do with the timing of the results.


Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.