Baton Rouge -- Annual school performance scores are scheduled for release Thursday by the Louisiana Education Department, and with the grades will come some changes.
The Times Picayune/NOLA.com reports the state has modified both the grading scale and the method, and it will be issuing two letter grades: one that reflects the school's score under the new system, and one that reflects what the school would have scored under the old system.
The biggest change is that performance scores for public schools will now be more heavily based on student performance on standardized tests. For high schoolers, performance on the ACT, and for elementary and middle schoolers, scores will be based LEAP and iLEAP tests. In addition, the maximum number of points that each school may earn is falling from 200 to 150.
This year's scale is:
- A -- 100-150 points
- B -- 85-99.9
- C -- 70-84.9
- D -- 50-69.9
- F --0-49.9
The previous scale was:
- A -- 120-200
- B --105-119.9
- C - 90-104.9
- D --75-89.9
- F -- 0-74.9
In a previous announcement of the new scoring system, Education Superintendent White explained the reasoning behind issuing two letter grades this year.
"We are providing a transition letter grade so that schools can see using the same formula as last year how well they did this year," he said. "And we're including the new grade to ensure that as we transition to the new system, we give families a clear apples to apples comparison."
As for the method of grading, the previous rating system for elementary schools counted student scores on iLEAP and LEAP tests for 90 percent of the school's grade. School attendance accounted for 10 percent of the grade. Now, however, these schools will be graded entirely student test scores.
For middle schools, 90 percent was formerly based on test scores, 5 percent on attendance and 5 percent on dropout rates. This year, 95 percent will be based on test scores, and 5 percent will be based on how many students drop out or don't progress to the next grade level.
At the high school level, 70 percent of the school's grade was based on end-of-course examinations, 30 percent on graduation rates. This year, 25 percent will be based on ACT scores, 25 percent on end-of-course exams and 50 percent on graduation rates.
Another change is that schools no longer will receive any points for students scoring in the two lowest tiers of LEAP and iLEAP exams: unsatisfactory and approaching basic. But in an effort to avoid a drastic decrease in some schools' scores, the state is implementing a bonus system, where schools may receive as many as 10 points for students who scored in the two lowest tiers but who made significant progress from the previous year.
White says he does not expect to see a drastic shift in the number of schools rated highly or poorly under the new grading system. He has proposed that no matter how elementary and middle school students performed on tests this year, no school would see its letter grade drop more than one letter grade.