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State Superintendent of Education John White makes a point while speaking at the annual meeting of Jump Start, which allows high school students to get workforce training in addition to regular academic classes, Tuesday Jan. 23, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La.

Barely changed from last year, about one out of three public school students in 2018 reached Louisiana's latest target for educational achievement, according to results released Tuesday.

A total of 34 percent of students in grades three to eight met the goal, which is called mastery and the second highest level of achievement, on the LEAP test.

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Last year, 33 percent of students did so, the same as the previous year.

Students will have to average mastery, and meet other academic targets by 2025, for a school to be A-rated.

State Superintendent of Education John White, who announced the results of the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, downplayed the fact that the state's mastery rate has changed little in three years.

"On the ultimate measure of whether students are graduating from high school and completing post-secondary education, there are positive signs," White said in an email.

"On the other hand, we have to insist that students be fully ready for education after high school," he said. "These numbers show we have a ways to go before graduates are fully ready for the next stage of education. That is a long-term challenge."

Including high school results, 43 percent of students in grades three to 12 achieved mastery in English and 33 percent in math.

White also said "persistent struggles" remain in improving scores for historically disadvantaged students.

Students took the LEAP exam earlier this year, testing their skills in math, English and social studies.

The five scoring levels are advanced, mastery, basic, approaching basic and unsatisfactory.

The state's previous benchmark was basic.

Requiring students to earn mastery is aimed at ensuring they are ready for the next grade level.

However, some superintendents privately question whether the 2025 goal is realistic.

A total of 43 percent of students in grades three to eight earned mastery in English, up from 42 percent last year.

Also, 32 percent did so in math, the same as last year.

White said the latest results point up the need for stronger math instruction statewide, and especially in later elementary and middle school grades.

"Math continues to be a real challenge," he said.

White said the hypothesis of state officials is that the state has long struggled to recruit and keep teachers "with a deep content knowledge in mathematics."

In social studies, 27 percent of students scored mastery compared to 25 percent last year.

White said civics and other areas have long received inadequate attention.

"Social studies needs to be a priority and we are on the way to making it a priority," he said.

Among students from economically disadvantaged families, 26 percent achieved mastery, up from 25 percent last year.

A total of 21 percent of African-American students scored mastery, up from 20 percent last year.

Another 11 percent of students with disabilities reached mastery, the same as in 2017.

The top-scoring school district is Zachary, where 55 percent of students achieved mastery, down from 56 percent last year.

Others include the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, 30 percent, up three percentage points from last year; Ascension, 50 percent, up 1; Jefferson, 31 percent, up 2; Lafayette, 37 percent, up 3; Livingston, 43 percent, up 1; Orleans Parish/Recovery School District New Orleans, 26 percent, unchanged; St. Bernard, 37 percent, unchanged; St. Charles, 50 percent, up 3; St. Helena, 5 percent, down 9; St. John the Baptist, 27 percent, up 1; St. Tammany, 45 percent, up 1; West Baton Rouge, 32 percent, unchanged; West Feliciana, 47 percent, up 1; Baker, 16 percent, up 5 and Central, 49 percent, up 1.

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Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.