Forty-four percent of public schools in Louisiana got a “D” or an “F” in the first round of letter grades for schools, a member of the state’s top school board said today.

Chas Roemer, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, made the comment during a press conference in New Orleans to announce the results.

Roemer, who is running for a second term on BESE, called those results unacceptable.

“While there are successes and growth, the growth is too slow and the success is too far in between,” he said.

“Today should be a call to action,” Roemer said of low-scoring schools.

The Zachary Community School District is the only one in the state that landed an “A,” said Ollie Tyler, acting state superintendent of education.

Tyler also praised the marks for the Ascension, West Feliciana, Central and Livingston school systems.

Department spokeswoman Rene Greer said a press release spelling out details of the results would be released about 15 minutes after the press conference.

The state Department of Education planned to release letter grades for all of the state’s nearly 1,300 public schools and school districts as well.

The grades stem from a 2010 state law aimed at helping parents and other taxpayers to better understand how public schools are performing.

Under the previous rules, schools were given labels and stars linked to their annual school performance scores, which focus mostly on how students fared on key tests.

But critics said few understood the stars and labels.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, approved a grading scale for schools and school districts in December.

Numerous superintendents, principals and other school leaders have been anxious about the issuance of the grades for months amid concerns that they will trigger a firestorm of criticism.

Backers have praised the grades for adding transparency to Louisiana’s public education system.

Critics have labeled the grading scale as too rigorous and said the results will unfairly stigmatize some schools and school districts.