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Louisiana’s Fickle 2018 School Grades: “Tougher” Calc Biased Upward for 35 Schools

November 10, 2018

On November 08, 2018, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) released the much-anticipated and somewhat-dreaded 2017-18 school performance scores.

One of the problems in trying to compare school grades across years involves the changes across years to school grade calculations, including but not limited to changes in tests and the grading scale itself. In some cases, the result has been inflated school grades.

In 2018, however, the grading criteria is supposed to be tougher; that was the word in August 2018. For example, consider this August 07, 2018, piece by in Alexandria:

Louisiana schools will no longer be graded on a curve. When school performance scores come out in the fall, the results may be lower.

The Advocate reported that there will be changes in the way school performance scores are calculated.

Student testing scores, graduation rates and academic growth are all taken into account during calculation.

The goal is to get student achievement in Louisiana comparable with other states. The change will cause ‘F’ rated schools to rise and ‘A’ rated schools to drop, according to the advocate. …

Before on state assessments students scoring ‘basic’ were proficient. Now the new proficiency level is ‘mastery’. This level gives school districts 100 points toward their performance score, while basic will only give 75 points.

F-rated schools will rise; A-rated schools will drop.

Sounds tougher, doesnt it?

Well, as it turns out, for many schools, the “new” 2018 scoring is tougher than the “old” scoring system used in 2017.

But not for all.

As a matter of fact, for 35 Louisiana schools, the “new,” supposedly tougher, 2018 scoring system produced higher school letter grades than the “old” 2017 formula would have produced for these same schools in 2018.

That’s not tougher; that’s capricious.

In April 2018, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill requiring LDOE to publish side-by-side school letter grade calculations based on the “new” 2018 formula and calculations on the 2018 data using the “old” 2017 formula.

Via these side-by-side calculations, one can see the increase in 35 school letter grades from using what has been portrayed as the tougher grading formula as compared to what these same schools would have received had the formula remained the same as it was in 2017.

Details on those 35 schools can be found in this Excel file that I created based on LDOE’s larger file and entitled, “2018 SPS Backwards”.  Here are the pertinent details:

3 Schools Raised from “Old” Calc B to “Tougher, New” Calc A:

  • Southside High School (Lafayette Parish)
  • East Elementary School (St. Landry Parish)
  • Calvin High School (Winn Parish)

14 Schools Raised from “Old” Calc C to “Tougher, New” Calc B:

  • Labadieville Primary School (Assumption Parish)
  • Summerfield High School (Claiborne Parish)
  • East Iberville Elementary/High (Iberville Parish)
  • Rooted School (Orleans Parish)
  • Abramson Sci Academy (Orleans Parish)
  • Livingston Collegiate Academy (Orleans Parish)
  • Phoenix High School (Plaquemines Parish)
  • Oak Hill High School (Rapides Parish)
  • Forest Hill Junior High School (Rapides Parish)
  • Red River High School (Red River Parish)
  • Evergreen Junior High School (Terrebonne Parish)
  • Pointe-aux-Chenes Elementary School (Terrebonne Parish)
  • Schriever Elementary School (Terrebonne Parish)
  • Wassman High School (City of Monroe)

17 Schools Raised from “Old” Calc D to “Tougher, New” Calc C:

  • Marksville High School (Avoyelles Parish)
  • Crawford Elementary School (Bienville Parish)
  • Ringgold Elementary School (Bienville Parish)
  • Bossier High School (Bossier Parish)
  • Southern Hills Elementary School (Caddo Parish)
  • E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Elementary (Caddo Parish)
  • Homer High School (Claiborne Parish)
  • Ville Platte Elementary School (Evangeline Parish)
  • Lake Area New Tech (Orleans Parish)
  • KIPP Morial (Orleans Parish)
  • Peabody Magnet High School (Rapides Parish)
  • Pineville Elementary School (Rapides Parish)
  • Dehi High School (Richland Parish)
  • Breaux Bridge Junior High School (St. Martin Parish)
  • Tensas High School (Tensas Parish)
  • Lincoln Preparatory School (its own district)
  • Collegiate Baton Rouge (its own district)

1 School Raised from “Old” Calc F to “Tougher, New” Calc D:

  • Istrouma High School (East Baton Rouge Parish)

There we have it:

Tougher grade calculation biased upward for 35 Louisiana schools.

Not tougher.


LDOE owes the public some answers.

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  1. If the weights, and changes, to the grade calculations are changed for the new system the only possible weighting is for the overall arverage.
    What number of schools gets a reduction in scores?

  2. Herb B permalink

    Clarification – Only three of the schools actually received higher score because of the new formula. The letter grade discrepancies are due primarily to the fact that a temporary (until 2021) ten point curve was applied to the “new formula” grades but not to the “old formula” grades.
    The old formula did not include the “Progress Index”; the progress index accounts for why a few schools had higher new formula scores. Those schools had student growth measurements far better than their proficiency rates, so that index pulled the scores up. While I have written about problems of bias with the growth measurements, I give LDOE credit for trying to give a second opinion about how the schools are performing.
    Collegiate Baton Rouge (high school) was particularly quirky because it did not receive ACT, Strength of Diploma, or Graduation Rate indices, so the progress index was weighted higher than for other high schools.

  3. Sharon permalink

    This is the problem: “The goal is to get student achievement in Louisiana comparable with other states.”
    It just doesn’t happen magically! First, our curriculum needs to be completely changed-maybe use the curriculum that the top 10 states use!!! Also, when we start using the same curriculum then we could use their tests! It just makes common sense!!!

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Achievement in all states comparable? Wasn’t that the aim of NCLB?

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