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John White’s 2019 LA NAEP and ACT Failure

November 3, 2019

On October 30, 2019, the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores were made public.

After seven years of John White as Louisiana’s state superintendent, the results were so unsavory to White and his Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) that his Louisiana 2019 NAEP Results Summary does not include a single actual NAEP scaled score.

Instead, the propagandistic flier advertises “change from 2017 to 2019” (differences in the actual scores that are intentionally excluded) and features “Louisiana ranks No. 1 in the nation for 2019 improvement in 8th grade math scale scores and proficiency rates” and “Louisiana’s pace of improvement since 2009 in all subjects significantly exceeds national trends.”

So, let’s look at Louisiana’s NAEP average scaled scores across time– not just from 2017 to 2019.

See these pages for Louisiana’s NAEP scores for grade 4 and grade 8.

Here are Louisiana’s actual average NAEP scaled scores across several NAEP administrations for math and reading, grades 4 and 8:

Grade 4 Math:

  • 2005: 230.23
  • 2007: 230.04
  • 2009: 229.43
  • 2011: 230.78
  • 2013: 231.37
  • 2015: 234.28
  • 2017: 228.97
  • 2019: 231.30

So, for grade 4 math, Louisiana’s 2019 average scaled score is almost 3 points lower than it was in 2015 and slightly lower than it was in 2013.

Grade 4 Reading:

  • 2005: 209.17
  • 2007: 207.41
  • 2009: 207.49
  • 2011: 210.41
  • 2013: 210.45
  • 2015: 216.20
  • 2017: 211.60
  • 2019: 209.87

As for grade 4 reading, Louisiana’s 2019 average scaled score is only .7 higher than it was in 2005– and 5.67 points lower than it was in 2015– and almost two points lower in 2019 than in 2017.

Grade 8 Math:

  • 2005: 267.76
  • 2007: 272.39
  • 2009: 272.38
  • 2011: 272.84
  • 2013: 272.76
  • 2015: 268.43
  • 2017: 266.51
  • 2019: 271.64

Now, White’s featured, 2019 grade 8 math ” number 1 improvement” only looks like improvement if one reads it with White’s proffered, 2017-to-2019 NAEP score blinders. However, one can see that from 2015 to 2017, Louisiana’s average grade 8 math score dropped almost two points. Moreover, the 2019 score is lower than the 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2016 grade 8 math scores.

This news is not good for White’s ed-reform public image. It if were, it would be featured in his LDOE press release.

Grade 8 Reading:

  • 2005: 252.69
  • 2007: 253.24
  • 2009: 253.33
  • 2011: 254.69
  • 2013: 257.35
  • 2015: 255.47
  • 2017: 256.75
  • 2019: 257.42

Louisiana’s grade 8 reading score is only .07 higher than it was in 2013, but the good news for LDOE propaganda is that the score dropped almost two points from 2013 to 2015 and did not recover by 2017, which helps with White’s 2017-to-2019 “improvement” narrative. (Highlight the recent “gain,” but don’t mention the loss preceding it.)

So there we have Louisiana’s 2019 NAEP marvels.

But there’s more.

On the same day that 2019 NAEP scores were released, so were Louisiana’s Class of 2019 ACT scores.

Louisiana’s Class of 2019 composite was 18.9— the lowest since all Lousiana graduates began to be required to take the test, beginning with the Class of 2013. In that year, Louisiana’s baseline composite was 19.5 (or 19.1, depending which LDOE info one reads).

Louisiana’s ACT Composite Scores (2013 – 2019):

  • 2013: 19.5 (or 19.1)
  • 2014: 19.2
  • 2015: 19.4
  • 2016: 19.5
  • 2017: 19.6
  • 2018: 19.3
  • 2019: 18.9

Not so surprisingly, White has no press release for Louisiana’s 2019 ACT dive.

That does not mean he has not been asked.

New Orleans Public Radio education reporter, Jess Clark, asked White to comment on Louisiana’s falling ACT score and received the following vague response, including NAEP-propaganda deflection:

Asked for comment on the latest ACT results, Louisiana State Superintendent John White sent an emailed statement pointing to progress the state made in 8th grade math on another national standardized test, the “Nation’s Report Card,” or NAEP.

“While the nation’s report card shows Louisiana tops the nation in 8th grade math progress, it’s important that we look at other indicators of our challenges,” he said.

John White wants to look at other indicators of “our” challenges.

I’ll bet he does.

John White and LDOE have no control over the reporting of NAEP scores and state-level ACT results– which means that these test scores are not susceptible to LDOE manipulation, and the results cannot be concealed from public view.

Therefore, NAEP and state-level ACT results provide the most objective measure of the test-score-centered ed reformers themselves– reformers like John White.

He is the head reformer in charge; for his reformer-success image, it all comes down to the test scores.

Louisiana’s 2019 NAEP and ACT results are a highly-visible, undeniable John White failure, and he knows it.

john white 2017

John White


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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.

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  1. Great summary!

  2. Lance Hill permalink

    Great research. Methodically deconstructing the John White myth.

  3. John Plencner permalink

    What is interesting is that statistically, there is no substantive change in scores across the timespan that you are using. Roughly 75% (6 out of 8) of the results are within one standard deviation of the mean. What this is saying is that LA’s math results have not changed in over ten years. This is what the NAEP results are saying nationwide. That is, Common Core has not had any appreciable effect upon our students’ knowledge.

    • Fuller permalink

      As we all knew CCSS would not change anything. Thank you for this report.

      Some of the things that will change this paradigm is strong discipline, expulsion of disruptive students, requiring parents of suspended children to take parenting classes, and admin that SUPPORTS teachers.

      We should follow some of Finland’s examples; give control back to the teachers, stop testing, revoke NCLB, get rid of most technology, and stop making changes every two years.

  4. A great point. I did not address std devs bc I thought it would overwhelm readers. Thank you for posting.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: The Failure of “Reform” In Louisiana | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. La. Schools Graded F for 4+ Years Mostly Serve Low-Income Students of Color | deutsch29

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