According to a paper released by the Center for Education Reform, Louisiana is near the top of the list of states that give parents the most control over their children's education, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Since the last edition of the report was released by the pro-charter non-profit group, Louisiana has moved from 6th to 3rd on the "parent power index" putting it behind only Florida and Indiana.
The rankings are based on several criteria that make up the typical school reform agenda including the existence of a voucher program and a large number of charter schools. About 6% of Louisiana students attend charter schools currently statewide, although the number is much higher in New Orleans and other urban centers.
"States where parents have options to choose tend to yield higher growth rates in student achievement," the study's authors said in a statement. "(In) states where systems and policies in place limit choice, parental engagement is hindered."
The center gave Louisiana extra points for its parent trigger law that lets parents vote to put perennially failing schools into the state Recovery School District, and for making information about schools easily available to the public.
This isn't the first time that Louisiana found itself near the top of a rating system that measures how enthusiastically a state adopts policies of school choice. Earlier this year, it was ranked first in the nation by StudentsFirst, a non-profit headed by former Washington D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee because of its new teacher assessment system that took half of its weight from the result of standardized student exams.
Critics say these report cards don't measure how well programs are implemented, or how well students score on national measures like the ACT. In 2011, the most recent data available, the National Assessment of Educational Progress put Louisiana near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading.
The national charter alliance has listened: Next year, its ratings will factor in graduation, dropout and attendance rates, and academic performance.
The critics' views are borne out by the fact that while Indiana – which tops the Parent Power Index with overall PPI of 87.0%, has a graduation rate of 75.8% and the average SAT score of 1470, Nebraska, which came in second to last had both a higher graduation rate – 76.6% — and higher average SAT score of 1745 but only has a 55.0% overall PPI.
CER concludes that in Nebraska, choice is sadly not an option – yet it doesn't appear to have made their schools worse off as a result.