Survey Says Education Quality Falling in Louisiana

A new survey of five hundred people has found that the quality of education in Louisiana is believed to be declining. The survey was conducted in early December 2013 by Gannett Louisiana, and The Mood of Louisiana survey was made available to print, digital, and social media audiences.

In total, nearly 75% of respondents say K-12 education is "extremely important" while nearly 18% believe it as an "important" subject. About 62% of respondents say the state's public education is declining in quality and 21% believe the system is maintaining the status quo. However, nearly 12% of respondents believe public education is improving in the state, writes Amanda McElfresh of Louisiana Gannett.

The results come after more than a year of major changes, including implementation of the state's Common Core standards, a new teacher evaluation system, a higher-than-expected rate of teacher exits, and the state's Minimum Foundation Program funding remaining stagnant.

In addition, some raised questions whether officials are putting more belief in private enterprise than the traditional public model after the state showed support for options including voucher and charter schools.

Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, believes media coverage of those topics has caused more people to pay closer attention to what is happening in schools in their communities, and overall education reform efforts. "… While citizens may not have a wonk's understanding of any of these issues, the net effect, I believe strongly, is a powerful reminder of how critical public education is to all of our futures," he said.

Many respondents said that teachers should be given more training and support for better results.

"The teachers have the burden of so many reports and paperwork that take away from their real teaching ability," said Richard Jones, of Bossier City. "It's burdensome.

According to Geri Mueller of West Monroe, Louisiana's public education model places too much emphasis on standardized tests and too little on actual subject matter.

"In reality, they are no longer teaching the way the teachers did years ago," Mueller said. "Their tenure and their salary is going to be based on the grades these kids get, and they only have time to concentrate on teaching those tests."

Since the launch of the current accountability system in 1999, Louisiana has made significant academic gains, according to state Education Department spokesman Barry Landry. At that time, about 45% of students were performing at grade level, compared to 69% of students now performing at grade level, Landry said.

Further, Landry said other state statistics also show success, including a record-high 72.3% graduation rate, a 25% increase in the number of college credits earned through advanced placement, and about 3,600 more high school seniors earning a college-level score on the ACT in 2013.

Landry said the shift to the Common Core state standards will enable more students to earn a college degree or succeed in a professional career.

01 2, 2014
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