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Ronnie Morris, an elected member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

What are school performance scores (SPS), how are they calculated, and why are they important (in a normal world and also in one turned upside down)? The scores are purposed to provide all stakeholders with a pulse of our public education system, allowing us to develop strategies and make informed decisions that will prepare all of our learners to reach their God-given potential and thrive in an increasingly global market.

They are calculated with consideration of several variables including the “growth” component, an indication of progress within the overall score of current relative academic status. Currently, some are questioning if the current weight of 25% is appropriate. Does it sufficiently recognize the progress made in very challenging learning environments? The opposite side of the conversation is that weighting growth inflates performance scores.

We all know that children are the future of our community and too many are not learning to their full potential. In fact, they are so far removed from it (Louisiana is ranked 48th nationally in a country ranked 32nd globally in reading, math and science) that one could consider it a world turned upside down, where there is little to no opportunity for children, leaving our communities filled with anger, crime, violence and poverty.

The SPS data along with other data collected by the state Department of Education is available to help us identify the untapped opportunities that can right our state by setting our future leaders up for success. Is it possible? Mississippi 4th grade readers jumped from 49th to 29th nationally and 50th to 23rd in math (if you can read, you can set up the math problem!).

In Louisiana, the table is set. Some $4 billion (and growing) in dedicated federal funds for K-12 education are in the tank. Let’s be transparent with stakeholders, invest our money wisely and proudly watch our children finish ahead of Mississippi, be prepared for college and the workforce and take their rightful places in society.

RONNIE MORRIS

member, BESE

Baton Rouge