Louisiana schools received some good news this week with the release of the high school end of course exam results. Danielle Dreilinger of NOLA.com reports that the scores, which determine if high schoolers are eligible for graduation next spring, rose slightly over last year.
Still, the end-of-course scores are probably at the apogee, at least in the near term, because next year, students will be taking new and tougher tests. Results are expected to take a substantial dive.
In a statement, Superintendent John White praised the students' achievement. Not only had the percentage of students who scored either "good" or "excellent" on the tests improved by 4 points to 59% this year, proficiency levels have risen more than 15 points since the state first introduced end of course exams during the 2008-09 academic year.
There are four score levels — needs improvement, fair, good and excellent — and the state considers the top two "proficient."
St. Tammany's scores topped the state at 75 in a five-way tie with Vermilion Parish, Vernon Parish and the Central and Zachary community school districts. St. Bernard and Plaquemines tied for third, St. Charles was in a two-way tie for fourth, Orleans placed seventh and St. John and St. James were in the middle of the pack.*
The Recovery School District's New Orleans schools were ninth from the bottom, but its scores did increase 10 points or more in English II and geometry.
Proficiency levels differed greatly between subject areas. Students performed best on the English I exam, with over three-quarters of those who took it getting a "proficient" rating. On the other side of the scale, fewer than 50% earned a sufficiently high mark on the biology exam. Between 50% and 60% of test takers were proficient in US History, English III and algebra I.
Before students can graduate from high school, they must pass 3 of the 6 end of course exams: either English II or III; either algebra I or geometry; and either biology or US History.
In addition, the results make up a full quarter of the school performance scores that determine whether charters stay open and whether local traditional schools can be taken over by the state.
Students may pass the tests with only a fair — the third-lowest score category, better only than needs improvement — but only good and excellent results count for the school performance score.
The new U.S. history results will not count toward the school performance score.