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La. Superintendent John White Requires Districts to Embargo LEAP Summary Public Reports

May 20, 2014

When it comes to the 2014 Louisiana Education Assessment Program (LEAP) scores he was supposed to release on Friday, May 16, 2014, Louisiana State Superintendent John White has apparently found himself in an unfamiliar fix regarding his characteristic “water muddying.”

It seems that in this instance, his Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) underlings have refused to airbrush LEAP scores in order to create a false luster of behalf of the predominately-charter-showcased Recovery School District (RSD).

What to do?

Well, for starters, refuse to honor the deadline. Never mind how much of a selfish, self-serving ripple such an action forces upon all state districts that are trying to wrap up one school year while planning for another– which includes planning for requisite LEAP summer remediation.

Also, be sure to provide districts with a directive on how to report scores, including new, fuzzy score report “groupings” that conceal the precision of the standard five levels of LEAP achievement (unsatisfactory, approaching basic, basic, mastery, and advanced).

Add to that the directive that public releases of score reports are to be embargoed until LDOE says it’s okay to release them. Districts are only allowed to issue individual score reports.

John White does not want the public to see the 2014 LEAP-score big picture.

Here are White’s/LDOE’s words, an amazingly obvious attempt to conceal less-than-favorable LEAP results:

All public releases, other than individual student reports to parents and students, are EMBARGOED until further notification from the Department of Education.  However, individual student results may be released as soon as possible to students and parents only. 

Student Reports: Grades 4 and 8 Student Reports are grouped into one of the following three categories: 

  •      The Passed category includes only the students who met the state promotional standard.
  •      The Passed with Remediation category includes students who met the state promotional standard and are also eligible to attend summer remediation for the subject in which they scored Approaching Basic. 
  •      The Did Not Pass category includes any student who did not meet the state promotional standard.

In statistics, the collapsing of categories conceals variation. That is, the fewer the categories, the “muddier” the reported result.

Yep. We’re back to mud.

The question is the degree to which White will try to shift public attention away from expected LEAP reporting based upon the five levels of LEAP scoring and toward his new, less-precise “three groupings” of LEAP scores.

Not sure if White was able to convince any of his LDOE “talent” to concoct this “new” three-group LEAP score classification system. However, I’m thinking this is Signature John White. The magic in the middle category, passed with remediation, is that this category, which begins with the word, “passed,” allows one to draw unwanted, higher-order critical thinking attention away from the “approaching basic” concealed within the category.

In other words, put a positive spin on “remediation” by pairing it with the term “passing.”

This “passing with remediation” can also conceal actual counts of the number of students who have one “approaching basic” (in either math or English) as opposed to two.

But there’s more.

Collapsing “basic,” mastery,” and “advanced” into a single, generic “passed” serves to conceal achievement nuances that might make the Louisiana Miracle RSD appear to be “less than” locally-run districts– the ones operated by those pesky, traditional local school boards.

This could make an RSD suffering from a dearth of mastery and advanced scores appear less deficient.

After all, a test-score-deficient “miracle” is harder to sell.

If the data reflects poorly on privatization, then the troubled corporate reformer could alter the data, or alter the reporting, or alter access to the reporting, or employ some combination of the three.

Gotta love corporate reform “transparency.”

Collapse categories.

Forbid (really??) immediate release of already (mysteriously) delayed, summary LEAP information. Buy more time in order to finesse the spin.

Pile on the John White, “I’m going to manipulate this test score outcome,” mud.


  1. Why don’t we let him keep the data and throw out all of the rules tied to them. Just an idea.

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    In statistics, the collapsing of categories conceals variation. That is, the fewer the categories, the “muddier” the reported result.

    Yep. We’re back to mud.

    Great summary. A variant in Ohio, courtesy ALEC, assigns A-F grades on “performance” in a whole lot of sub-categories for reporting. Then it calculates one grand A-F rating for the teacher, school, district. Then this gets explained: Your school cannot receive an A if any subcategory of students is rated a C. And so on. Designed to elimante any nuance and never provides a rationale or context that might explain any of these collapsing categories.

  3. Harlan Underhill permalink

    Extremely clear and helpful exposition, Mercedes. NOW want to see the real data more than ever.

  4. No doubt — assuming the results are less than stellar — he’ll simply pull an Arne and spin it to say how REVEALING the results are, and how desperately we needed the reforms (ahem, TRANSFORMATION).

  5. I would posit that White has no authority to require districts to withhold these scores. Further, I would hope that there will be at least one if not more superintendents who do release them. This is public information I presume. Worth a try.

  6. Reblogged this on Crazy Crawfish's Blog and commented:
    There is more to these stories than I first suspected. I have confirmed some information through my sources and have a few new interesting tidbits to reveal.

  7. aneducator permalink

    If you think he’s ‘fixing’ the books now, wait till they take the PARCC test….he’ll have to do a lot more than ‘just fix the books’ to make the state/districts all look ‘good’.

  8. The Districts in OUR state have the rights to these scores and outcomes!

  9. Mickey permalink

    well, my pals in the districts say the newsletter from Whitey they received said nothing about embargoes.

    my source says she was told “scores overall in the state show a 1% decline” 6 grades and 4 subject levels – what could 1% mean


  10. John White is the token fall guy for this whole mess in this state. The governor accepted this deal based on the NGA’s political affiliation and backing without any previous knowledge of the backlash it would cause because there was money attached and he has White to blame it on if the plan goes south. (hence Bobby backing away and he and White reportedly at odds a few weeks ago.They are both complicit in taking(adopting) CCSS and money and passing it out to resource strapped parishes for leadership training that goes back to the northeast money laundering cronies just outside DC. These are new start ups that have doubled or tripled their annual income in recessionary times and increased the median income in the northeast to five times the national average. Does Bobby own a house close to there? These people do not want higher standards or smarter people unless they can control every step they make (extortion based on mandates) because they want “questionless” free reign and power to intimidate opposition. People are waking up, but will it be fast enough to save dollars from litigation from corporate contracts made by the state. Could this by part of this states projected billions in shortfall. Can you say chickens before they hatch?

  11. CiCi permalink

    Teachers AND children are tired of the ugly four-letter word- T E S T!
    I have taught long enough to see the direction that education has gone and it has gone from
    FUN to FRUSTRATING! New teachers have NO clue as to how much FUN teaching WAS!
    We covered SO much more content a couple of decades ago and those students DID NOT
    PLAY GAMES and STUDIED content, learned to spell scientific terms in middle school and
    STUDIED at home!!!! Times change but we MUST hold our children (and parents) accountable
    for educating the TOTAL child and hold parents accountable for teaching “social skills” at
    an early age in order for us to do our job in the classroom as educators!!!!!!!!!!

  12. guest permalink

    I believe that I can possibly clear up some misunderstanding about the 3 categories vs. the five labels of Basic, Mastery, etc. As a school and district administrator for a number of years I have had access to the leap web data for students. The categories of “Passed,” Passed with Remediation,” and “Did Not Pass” have been part of the LEAP reporting data since I can remember (over 12 years). These categories simply assist administrators in sorting letters to parents. The letters to parents in each category contain students’ Math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies scores and they are broken down into the five basic groups of Advanced, Mastery, Basic, Approaching Basic, and Unsatisfactory. Parents are given the full range of scores through these letters. The three categories assist administrators in quickly identifying students who for instance must attend summer remediation. The “Passed” letters would be students who score Basic or above in ELA and Math. The “Passed with Remediation” letters would be students who score the Basic/Approaching Basic needed for passing but would be eligible for remediation due to the Approaching Basic score. The “Did Not Pass” letters to parents identify students who scored below Basic in ELA and Math. I believe this is what John White was referring to in his newsletter when he mentioned these categories as this was the only information permitted to be released – individual student reports.
    I am not saying there are not other issues in the test score reporting this year, just that the three categories are simply ways to identify groups of letters for administrators and these have been part of the reporting process for many years.

    • Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate knowing about the history of the three categories.

      From the back-and-forth with others (bloggers, admin), it seems now that the pressing issue is one of alleged score tampering rather than category alteration.

      Of course, there is also the degree to which results will be reported to the public. I do believe White’s goal is to hide a less-than-favorable RSD result.

      Thanks again.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Educational Policy Information
  2. Test Score Gate – for John White, Failure was not an option | Crazy Crawfish's Blog
  3. John White’s Journey: Why he decided to ask his Louisiana Department of Education to alter student test scores | Crazy Crawfish's Blog
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