Skip to content

John White’s Two Sets of 2015 ACT Scores

February 21, 2016

Louisiana has two sets of ACT scores for students who were seniors in 2014-15. The first set of scores was partially announced in July 2015; the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) issued this embargoed 2014-2015 Louisiana ACT 12th Grade Results release; these scores are only district- and state-level composite scores, not school-level.

Months passed; 2015 became 2016, and still, no release of a comprehensive file of school-level scores for Louisiana’s Class of 2015.

On February 05, 2016, I wrote to the state board (BESE) and Louisiana state superintendent John White about the issue:

When will the state release a comprehensive file of the Class of 2015 ACT composite scores?

BESE member Kathy Edmonston emailed White asking for how she might advise me on this issue, and on February 05, 2016, White sent her the following response to Edmonston and all of BESE, which Edmonston then forwarded to me:

Subject: Re: Class of 2015 ACT scores

This request regards an Excel file listing all individual school average ACT scores. Those scores have been posted publicly on individual school report cards since October. An Excel file containing all school scores in one sheet has been through the data certification process and will be posted next week. [Emphasis added.]

John

So, that brings us to the second set of Class of 2015 ACT scores– the ones posted on school report cards.

According to the email above, John White writes as though the Excel file LDOE is planning to release is one comprised of the same ACT scores on the October 2015 report cards. In the above email, White leads BESE to believe that the scores in question– the ones to be included in the Excel file– have already been in the public eye since October 2015.

As it turns out, White lied, and he knew he was lying when he wrote those words to BESE members. His Excel file does not include the same ACT information that is on the report cards.

On February 20, 2016, I wrote a post that included an Excel file that I created, one based on ACT information on the October 2015 report cards. Written above the ACT average composite score on each report card are the following words:

Average score is based on all enrolled twelfth grade students.

There is no qualifier to the above statement; BESE rep Shan Davis sent this limited explanation of the school report card. It includes nothing beyond the statement above about the ACT average being “based on all enrolled twelfth grade students.”

I created my Excel file of ACT composite scores by school and district because I had been watching for White’s file to appear, and I hadn’t seen it.

On February 21, 2016, BESE rep Gary Jones sent me an email suggesting that I apologize to White because the LDOE Excel file of Class of 2015 ACT scores had indeed been published as White promised.

So, I looked again at the LDOE page with ACT scores, and it was there, under an unusual title:

ACT Best Composite Scores for 2014-2015 Seniors by Parish

Here is how it looks on the LDOE web page (click to enlarge):

LDOE ACT

Jones also forwarded to me the email in which White states that the file was posted the next “business day” after my February 05, 2016, email– which would have been Monday, February 08, 2016:

Members, these data were posted the business day after the original exchange on this issue. They can be found within the first link on this page: http://www.louisianabelieves.com/resources/library/high-school-and-college-and-career-data-center

John

Here is where White gets caught in a lie:

On February 05, 2016, he emailed Edmonston and BESE and wrote that the Excel sheet LDOE was to release “next week” would be comprised of “those scores” already on the report cards from October 2015.

Not so. The scores in White’s Excel file model the district scores from his July 2015 press release, not the ACT scores on the October 2015 report cards.

White lied to BESE on February 05, 2016, so that he could make it appear that the public had already had access to the school-level ACT scores that were in his not-yet-released Excel file.

He lied.

In an email to BESE and White, I questioned the discrepancies in district scores between the two files (my Excel file, as taken from report cards and his Excel file, based on the July 2015 press release).  I stated that LDOE’s data calculations need to be audited.

BESE member Shan Davis forwarded to me the following from White to BESE, “FYI”:

From: John White
Sent: Sunday, February 21, 2016 10:58 AM
To: Gary Jones
Cc: Shan N. Davis; Kathy Edmonston; James Garvey (BESE Board); Doris.Voitier@sbpsb.org; Jada Lewis; James Garvey; Kira Orange Jones; Tony Davis; Sandy Holloway; Thomas Roque; Lurie Thomason
Subject: RE: Fwd: Class of 2015 ACT scores by district and school

Members, I’ll end my participation in this chain with the following explanation.

The report cards are accountability scores. They include the student scores based on which the school performance scores are calculated. This includes, for example, only students who attended the school for the entire year. It excludes, therefore, students who may have taken the test but were not in attendance at a school for the entire year.

The ACT score file I circulated is the file for all Louisiana students taking the test, irrespective of how long they were enrolled in a given school and not related to the calculation of school performance scores.

This is one way among others in which the calculations are different, as they have different objectives.

I appreciate the chance to answer these questions. At the same time, I think the best way to proceed on these mass emails in the future is to encourage the author of the original request to meet with staff or to have staff organize responses on behalf of the board. A One-off, mass email chain, in my view, is not a professional way for a board to communicate the facts of intricate policies.

John

Know what else happens in email chains? Liars get caught in their contradictions.

Let us compare emails.

White to Edmonston and BESE on February 05, 2016:

This request regards an Excel file listing all individual school average ACT scores. Those scores have been posted publicly on individual school report cards since October. An Excel file containing all school scores in one sheet has been through the data certification process and will be posted next week. [Emphasis added.]

And White to BESE on February 21, 2016:

The report cards are accountability scores. They include the student scores based on which the school performance scores are calculated. This includes, for example, only students who attended the school for the entire year. It excludes, therefore, students who may have taken the test but were not in attendance at a school for the entire year.

The ACT score file I circulated is the file for all Louisiana students taking the test, irrespective of how long they were enrolled in a given school and not related to the calculation of school performance scores.

This is one way among others in which the calculations are different, as they have different objectives. [Emphasis added.]

February 05, 2016: ACT scores on October 2015 report cards are the same as in the to-be-released Excel file.

February 21, 2016: ACT scores on the October 2015 report cards differ from those in the February 08, 2016, Excel file.

White knew when he wrote the February 05, 2016, email to Edmonston and BESE that he would not be including the same ACT scores in the Excel file as were on the October 2015 report cards.

He lied.

In the February 21, 2016, email, White states that the ACT averages on the report cards are only for students “who attended the school for the entire year.” If one consults Bulletin 111 regarding school performance score calculations, one sees that White’s “entire school year” statement is not accurate; the ACT scores of seniors who enrolled on or before October 1st of the school year are the ones to be counted in school grade calculations.

But the October 2015 school report cards omit declaring the “enrolled by October 1st” qualification.

The October 2015 report cards state that the ACT averages are for “all enrolled seniors.”

So, what, exactly, is going on with LDOE and school score calculations and with its two sets of ACT scores for students who were seniors in 2014-15?

An audit is needed.

As a postscript, consider this:

In explaining the differences between ACT scores on October 2015 district and school report cards and ACT scores in his Excel file, White states that the report card ACT averages are based on “the students who attended the school for the entire year.”

According to White, the 15.6 ACT average composite score for the Recovery School District in New Orleans (RSD-NO) on the October 2015 RSD-NO report card means that seniors who attended RSD-NO schools “for the entire year” averaged 15.6 on the ACT.

Now, if we mix it up– include students who enrolled later– exclude seniors who dropped out– then RSD-NO’s ACT average jets up to 16.6.

That is just sad.

As for those two sets of ACT scores:

White needs to offer the public clear and timely information.

And, of course, he needs to stop lying.

pants on fire

_______________________________________________________________

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: