governorspeech0205.012418 bf

State Superintendent of Education John White, left, and Lisa T. French, right, chat with Gov. John Bel Edwards, center, who just spoke 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.

Thank you for an excellent editorial on the successes and failures of Louisiana’s current school accountability program. As you pointed out, the goal of a rating system should not be to generate numbers, nor should it be to create false comparisons between schools.

The difference between an A-rated school and one with a D grade may seem significant. But a school rated D may have shown significant progress, while the scores of the A-rated one may actually have fallen.

The original School Accountability Commission created under former Gov. Mike Foster recognized that schools and school districts are too economically and ethnically diverse to be compared side-by-side. Schools competed with themselves. A 10 percent growth per year was the expected target. A top-level school had a smaller target but its substantially harder to improve high scores than growing from lower ones. It’s not logical to condemn the one and reward the other, especially if one is in an area where college degrees are common and incomes are high.

This year’s growth targets are higher, and that’s good. But BESE should abandon the badly flawed letter-grade system, which ignores true student improvement. And the Legislature should expand the system to include every school in the state. Private and parochial schools have no standards at all to meet, deceiving tuition-paying parents and making true “school choice” nothing more than a sham.

Russ Wise

St. John the Baptist Parish School Board