Fast Facts•Graduation Rate: 67.0% •Average SAT Score: 1651 •Average ACT Score: 20.2 •4th Grade NAEP Math Score: 26% •8th Grade NAEP Math Score: 21% •4th Grade NAEP Reading Score: 23% •8th Grade NAEP Reading Score: 24% •Per Pupil Funding: $10,728 •Public School Enrollment: 690,915
Like a phoenix up from the ashes, the Bayou State has adopted parent empowerment measures of national significance in the last seven years that have helped reverse decades of decline. Thousands of children once stuck in failing schools now have access to the private schools of their choice, and a robust charter law serves students in need. In addition, more digital learning opportunities are available across the state, a dramatic change in teacher tenure and accountability for all schools has been enacted, and parents have ready access to information, driving a high Parent Power Index where once no measurable parent power existed.
Louisiana’s Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program is awarded to income-qualified students in failing schools. The program is currently funded at $9.7 million, awarding scholarships to nearly 5,000 students. Louisiana also has a pilot voucher program for special needs students and a scholarship tax credit for low-income students. In 2012, teachers unions and local school boards brought the voucher program, and Gov. Jindal’s overall education reform package, to court. The State Supreme Court ruled in Spring 2013 that the funding mechanism for the program was unconstitutional, but the program itself was not struck down and in June the Governor signed the state’s annual budget, which included a $45 million appropriation for the program for the 2013–2014 school year. However, the drama continued and in August, the U.S. Department of Justice DOJ sued the state of Louisiana to block future issuances of school vouchers in districts still under desegregation orders. The state permits parents some choices among traditional public schools by allowing students in low performing schools to attend another school within their district, but to move from one district to another requires the districts to agree to such transfers.SOURCE: The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
Louisiana has an above-average charter school law that has improved slowly since a robust charter movement began in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Outside of the Recovery District, however, traditional school districts neither encourage nor promote the creation of charter schools. Having an independent authorizer would help encourage charter growth.SOURCE: 2014 Charter School Law Rankings and Scorecard
Louisiana's Virtual School dates back to 2000, but in the 2013 - 2014 school year the program transitioned to the Course Choice system. While still limited, the Course Choice program allows up to 3,500 students to participate in some form of digital learning. The program allows for multiple providers but with enrollment capped, access to digital learning is not as widespread as it should be.SOURCE: Digital Learning Now!
Objective evidence of student learning and subjective teacher evaluations are weighted equally, and make up 50 percent of their annual evaluations. Louisiana teachers receive feedback about their evaluations and their professional development is aligned with evaluation findings. Tenure can be lost after one ineffective rating and is only received if a teacher has five of six highly effective ratings. Teachers who receive unsatisfactory evaluations are required to go on improvement plans and are eligible for dismissal if they do not improve.
Louisiana has one of the most comprehensive performance pay policies in the country, requiring all human resources decisions to be based on a combination of performance, demand, and experience.SOURCE: National Council on Teacher Quality
Very parent-friendly data is provided by the state department of education. Parents can access a letter grade for their school along with a comprehensive report card. Parents can customize and download reports for every school in the state or compare just a few. Links to both charter school information and applications for the state’s voucher program are provided on the homepage. For the 68 local school boards, elections are held every four years in October.