Student taking a practice LEAP test: “I don't understand this question.”
Teacher: “Let’s take a closer look.”
Student taking practice LEAP test: “Oh! I get it. Why they just didn't ask that?”
This refrain is sung harmoniously throughout the school year in several public school classrooms across the state of Louisiana. Sadly, this song is very familiar with public schools that mainly serve students of color. In response to the newly released school performance scores, in which a large portion of the SPS is comprised of LEAP 2025 results, students of color perform in the lower levels.
I would like to raise concerns around transparency of test scores and the idea of creating a variety of tests that cater to different tiers of language groups and different learning styles.
According to the SPS data created by the state, out of the 12 public high schools listed in East Baton Rouge, including Northeast Middle/High and Mentorship STEAM Academy (Type I Charter), Baton Rouge Magnet High and Lee Magnet High are the only two schools that received an “A”.
Baton Rouge High has a student population of 1,509 students with 36% African American and 37% white.
Lee High has a student population of 1,081 students with 69% African American and 19% white.
It’s also important to note that Lee High is the only high minority populated school with an “A” and Scotlandville High has a “C” with 98% African American, 0% white, and 1% Hispanic students.
The data also shows 6 out of 12 high minority public schools in EBR earned “C’s,” 3 out of 12 earned “D’s” and 2 out of 12 earned “F’s.” The average population of those 10 schools have an average of 84% African American and 5.8% white.
Apparently, public schools with a white majority perform better than schools with large minority populations. Why is this? Standardized tests.
Not only does the SPS data raise eyebrows on the validity minority student performance but the “2019 Schools in Need of Intervention List” is another offensive slap in the face. There’s a column that targets different groups (Students with disabilities, black, economically disadvantaged, Hispanic/Latino, etc.) who need intervention, which adds gas to the fire because it appears that “these students are the reason why public schools are failing.”
This data paints an ugly picture that students of color can’t succeed and if most of the data is determined from the results of standardized tests, “educational equity” and “rigor” are just lofty abstractions.
Minority students don't need much intervention; the LEAP 2025 needs more intervention.
Until state test makers create assessments with a protocol for transparency of test results (the ACT has a verification process but it costs $40), different language variations for students of color, and tests that align with different learning styles, education in Louisiana will only leave a legacy of manipulation in the annals of history.