The LEAP performance of our kids gets enough bad press without the Louisiana Department of Education contributing to it by misrepresenting the data it presents to the public. The graphic that was reported this past week in the Advocate, and appears on the department’s website, entitled “2015-2017 LEAP Assessment Results-Percent of Students Scored Mastery and Above Combining ELA, Math and Science” is a misrepresentation of the data. The figures in the graphic do NOT represent the percent of students scoring mastery or above on the LEAP test. They are instead the percent of tests on which the students score mastery or above, and combining them into a single summary statistic is of little value in judging the students’ LEAP performance. The department further compounded the error by using those figures across testing years to produce a single “growth” score.

Upon seeing the graphic, I called the Louisiana State Department of Education and received the following reply from David Hopkins, an education research analyst:

“I spoke with our research staff who worked on this product and you are correct that when we summarize across 3 subjects the numbers represented are actually percentage of tests, not percentage of students, as it says in the title. I have passed this feedback on to the other analysts. Thank you very much for your interest in our statewide assessment programs.”

I also requested that the State Department of Education print a retraction in the Advocate and remove or correct the table on their website. To date, neither has occurred.

Sadly, if the Louisiana Department of Education had never produced the misrepresented graphic and instead emphasized the reporting of students achieving mastery or above by each individual grade level and each individual subject level, the public would have a valid representation of the success of our students on LEAP.

Additionally, the Louisiana Department of Education should know better than to quantify dissimilar data, because, often times, positive results can get hidden. Our kids deserve better.

Jim Anderson

former director of accountability/assessment, NOPS