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Louisiana’s Falling School Scores: Many “A’s” Expected to Become “C’s”(?)

August 11, 2018

On August 05, 2018, the New Orleans Advocate included this article about the anticipated drop in Louisiana’s school performance scores, set to be released in the fall of 2018.

The title of the article is, “You might be shocked to see your school’s letter grade dropped, but Louisiana leaders can explain…,” and it includes the following excerpts of interest:

Michael Faulk, executive director of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, said his group has been advising superintendents for months on how to get ready for the changes.

“To prepare people so it won’t be a shock,” said Faulk, former superintendent of the Central School District. …

…During the transition the number of F-rated schools will rise by 57 percent and those with A ratings will drop 38 percent, according to state figures released last year.

On February 26, 2018, Faulk sent an email to Louisiana district superintendents. The subject line was simply “Attachments,” and it did include three attachments (I linked these in the text below), along with the following text:


Please find attached 3 documents which have been worked on and developed for use in presenting information

to various audiences.

1.  A Power Point Template which you may use and adapt for presentations to business groups, parent organizations or staff.

2.  ESSA White Paper in a Word document.  Superintendent Kelli Joseph will be discussing the components of this document at the LSBA [La. School Boards Assn.] Convention.  This helps developing a perspective on School Accountability.

3.  A  Power Point Transitioning to New and Challenging Academic Standards which I presented to school board members at Trail Blazers held in the Fall of 2017.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

M. Faulk

Below is some key information from the three documents linked above.

To begin, regarding the drop in A-graded schools and increase in F- graded schools, the first Power Point includes the following details:


The same information is included in the ESSA white paper, and it is followed by commentary on “Louisiana’s impressive progress” and how the new rating system is better because it “will now value more the progress of every child.” However, the reality is that schools and districts will be punished for receiving lower school grades– as is starkly noted in a slide from the second, “Transitioning” Power Point:


Many “A” schools and districts will become “C” schools or districts.

“C” schools and districts will drop in performance either barely maintaining their “C” rating or drop to a “D” rating.

More districts will be eligible for charter schools.

“A” schools and districts becoming “C” schools and districts will be looked at as failure; there is no way that this will be played off as “but we’ve improved.”

The ultimate punishment waiting in the wings:

*Charter school eligibility.*

Of course, the great irony here is that most charter schools in Louisiana are concentrated in New Orleans, and 40 percent of those scored D or F in 2017prior to the anticipated, 57 percent increase in F-graded schools. But in the view of market-based ed reform, it is okay for charter schools have Fs because theoretically, these can be replaced by new charter schools ad infinitum with charter-closure churn being branded as a success.

In 2010, Louisiana state ed board (BESE) president, Penny Dastugue, commented that “people can relate to letter grades,” implying that letter grades are simple.

The shifting criteria behind them is not “simple”; it is simplistic, and as such, it is destructive and feeds a joyless, authoritarian, fear-centered atmosphere in schools and systems unfortunate enough to not have access to hefty doses of wealth, privilege, or the capacity for selective admission.

The ESSA white paper includes a comparison to football game with a mid-game rule change– an analogy that the author(s) appear to believe works because “a good team will soon revise its playbook and strategies to once again be successful”– with no mention of any negative consequences, including losing the game; the coach being fired; players dropping the program due to low morale, and the football program possibly being defunded. (Another irony: Many charter schools do not offer extracurricular activities to their students.)

Still, district superintendents are urged to proceed with some “don’t worry, be happy” talking points:

Communicating Change

It will be very important to communicate with all stakeholders that declining changes in scores and letter grades may result despite no significant change or even some improvement in a school or district’s effort.

Our top educators and school district CEOs support efforts to find new and better ways to serve students. However, that pursuit for improvement should not be undermined by a grading system that does not accurately represent the work being done. The shifts toward growth and higher standards under ESSA should be managed more effectively and more productively, rather than in a somewhat punitive structure.

The anticipated changes could be equated to a football game where teams use a traditional point system through the first half, but at half time, they are notified that the values of their scores have been changed based upon whether the points were gained through a run or pass play. Additional points are also being awarded or subtracted from the team’s overall score based on actions related to the game, but that previously, may have had no direct bearing on the score of the game.

Clearly, such a “mid-game” change could put a well-organized and talented team in an underdog position. And while any team may struggle to adapt to the new game conditions and structure, a good team will soon revise its playbook and strategies to once again be successful.

Remind stakeholders that your school/district is ever adapting to better educate your students to be successful in an ever changing, ever fluctuating global society. These changes may cause temporary setbacks, but even those setbacks can result in improvements that better advance our goals.

Next comes a chart of talking points (included in both the ESSA white paper and the first Power Point). Note the intentional (deceptive?) downplay of the standardized test scores that undeniably overshadow all else on the public school campus:


So, if  since February 2018, your Louisiana district has communicated that it is shifting its focus away from test scores and back to standards, and that the standards are to drive instruction, you now know where that message originated. However, I doubt if the “back to standards” campaign has been advertised enough to overshadow the message of consequence:



Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

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




  1. Lance Hill permalink

    How to manufacture public opinion and consent. Don’t believe what you see; believe what I say. Now we get an idea of how the $10 million Trump bribe to Louisiana education “researchers” will be spent.

  2. e. More districts will be eligible for charter schools. There it is.

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    The whole case is absurd, but not at all funny. Kid wants to be an artist–compete in a national and global economy? give me a break

    Bizarre phrase: “We are committed to growing your child.”

    Send that one to our gifted late night comedians or Emma Gonzales.

  4. Linda permalink

    DeVos’ look-a-like, an aging, blonde junior leaguer, who never worked a day in her life, Elisabeth S. Nalty is one more face of privatization. She is President of the Board of the Edward G. Schleider Education Foundation. Tulane’s Douglas Harris is the Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education. Harris is one of the participants in the all White group of academics developing products and providing marketing plans for the charter school industry, at the taxpayers expense ($10 mil. grant from Betsy’ s Dept. to REACH.) Harris raked in $4.3 mil. in grants from John Arnold/Smith Richardson/William T Grant and money from Gates and Lumina.
    The icing, Nalty is on the Ethics Review Board for the City of New Orleans.
    I might be surprised about the drive to privatize in New Orleans and Mississippi f I didn’t know that the racist, Gov. and Senator Talmadge from Georgia, first initiated the idea of privatization to avoid integration.
    The new wrinkle is the GOP and DINO plan to destroy institutions that the public had faith in, like universities, FBI, and the courts. The Paul Weyrich training manual at Theocracy Watch spells out this feature of the Koch’s plotting.

  5. Linda permalink

    Mother Jones reported that the family of alt right Richard Spenser, is an absentee landlord of 5200 acres of cotton and corn fields in Louisiana. The farms got $2 mil. in subsidies from the government- another words, corporate welfare. Spenser is linked to the Mencken Club, where Darren Beattie spoke. Beattie is a WH policy aide and speech writer. The SPLC described Mencken as “pseudo academic and academic racists.”

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Louisiana Bracing for Lower School Grades, Which Will Clear the Way for More Privatization | Diane Ravitch's blog

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