|BATON ROUGE, La. – Results of spring testing released by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) in May revealed more Louisiana students than ever are grade-level proficient. But a five-point boost in the minimum mark needed to avoid the Academically Unacceptable School (AUS) label placed more schools on the state’s 2011 AUS list, which was released by LDOE today.
Based on their preliminary 2011 School Performance Scores (SPS), 48 traditional (non-alternative and non-RSD) schools failed to meet the minimum SPS score, which increased from 60 in 2010 to 65 in 2011. While the most recent AUS list includes 31 schools that were not on the 2010 list, two traditional schools managed to shed the label despite the tougher standard. Those schools are J.S. Clark Microsociety Academy in Caddo Parish and Capitol Middle School in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The higher standard was adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in January 2010. In fact, next year, the minimum score to avoid the AUS designation will increase another 10 points, to 75. Even though state officials anticipated an increase in the number of schools designated AUS, they expressed confidence in the ability of the education community to respond to the challenge.
“We predicted a significant increase in the number of schools that would initially fail to meet the minimum standard,” Acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler said. “But I have no doubt that we will see schools quickly overcome this status, given the history of our districts and schools in responding to tougher standards.”
When Louisiana’s accountability system was launched in 1999, the minimum-cut score was 30. In 2003, the minimum standard was increased to 45. In 2005, it was raised once again to 60.
To Tyler’s point around the impact of raising standards, 477, or 40 percent, of the state’s 1,188 scored schools earned an SPS below 65 in 1999. In 2011, 9.9 percent, or 135 of the state’s 1,361 alternative, traditional and Recovery School District schools, earned a 2011 SPS below 65.
The bottom line, state policymakers said, is these increases in School Performance Scores represent gains in student achievement. In the last three years alone, the percentage of students performing at grade level has risen from 60 percent in 2008 to 66 percent in 2011 – meaning approximately 23,000 more students are performing at grade level now than three years ago.
“We realize today’s news is unwelcomed. But we haven’t lost sight of our progress and the effort being put forth by educators across our state to ensure our students have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in school and beyond,” Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Penny Dastugue said. “What BESE did when we made the decision to raise standards is say ‘It’s not acceptable that more than half the students in a school are performing below grade level. Our students deserve more from us.’ Our commitment and challenge now at the state level is to work with schools and districts to get every school in the state over the bar.”
An analysis of School Performance Scores indicates an SPS of 65 represents a school where approximately 61 percent of the student population is performing below grade level. School Performance Scores are calculated for K-6 grade schools using student test scores (90%) and attendance (10%). Schools with a seventh and eighth grade configuration receive an SPS based on attendance (5%) dropouts, (5%), and student test scores (90%). High schools (grades 9-12) receive an SPS based on test scores (70%) and their Graduation Index (30%).
Under the new letter-grade policy adopted by BESE in December 2010, schools labeled AUS will receive a failing grade when the state’s nearly 1,400 schools receive their performance scores and corresponding letter grades in October. Today’s LDOE release centers on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirement that all states must release a preliminary list of schools that are required to offer choice or Supplemental Educational Services.
Traditional schools (non-alternative and non-RSD) identified as AUS 1, AUS 2, or AUS 3 are located in the following districts:
- Ascension Parish (1)
- Avoyelles Parish (2)
- Bienville Parish (1)
- Caddo Parish (10)
- East Baton Rouge Parish (8)
- Jefferson Parish (2)
- Natchitoches Parish (1)
- Pointe Coupee Parish (1)
- Rapides Parish (2)
- St. Helena Parish (2)
- St. James Parish (1)
- St. Landry Parish (1)
- City of Baker School District (3)
- City of Monroe School District (2)
- Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Type 2 Charter Schools (2) – (Madison Preparatory Academy and The MAX Charter School)
- Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Special School (1) – Louisiana Special Education Center
There are no traditional schools identified as AUS 4 this year. Each of the eight schools labeled AUS 5 or AUS 7 is currently operating under a Memorandum of Understanding or Management Agreement with the RSD or an agreement negotiated with LDOE.
The list released by the Department today includes alternative schools. These schools provide educational services to students with academic and/or behavioral problems, many of whom have been either suspended or expelled. Performance scores for alternative schools were not released in 2009 and 2010, while the School and District Accountability Commission reviewed the evaluation method for the academic performance of these schools. Earlier this summer, BESE approved the release of performance scores for alternative schools, based upon the recommendation of the Accountability Commission.
The release published by LDOE also includes RSD schools with a 2011 SPS below 65, even though transfer to the RSD represents the most intense level of intervention under Louisiana’s accountability model, and RSD schools must comply with sanctions prescribed by NCLB. However, despite the higher bar, four schools labeled AUS last year raised their SPS enough to shed the AUS designation this year. Those four RSD schools are Andrew Wilson Charter School, Harriet Tubman Elementary School, Algiers Technology Academy, and James Weldon Johnson School.
Sanctions Faced by Schools in AUS Status
Each consecutive year a school is labeled AUS, it moves to a higher level, ranging from AUS 1 – AUS 6+. And every year the school remains in AUS status, it is required to implement additional strategies aimed at improving academic achievement. For example, schools designated AUS 1 must offer Supplemental Educational Services (SES), such as after-school tutoring. Schools labeled AUS 2 must also offer school choice. As schools proceed to higher levels, the consequences become more stringent. Schools labeled AUS 4 or higher are eligible for transfer to the state’s Recovery School District.
Schools that are participating in LDOE’s School Improvement Grants (SIG) program and are implementing the Turnaround Intervention Model may not face the same sanctions. In an effort to avoid conflicting with their on-going SIG plans, these schools will continue to be labeled AUS, but are not required to implement the corresponding AUS interventions during their participation in the grant program.
Academic Watch List and Subgroup Component Failure (SCF)
Last year the Department issued an Academic Watch list for the first time. The 2010 Academic Watch List included 201 Louisiana schools that earned a 2010 SPS between 60 and 74.9. This year’s Academic Watch list includes 155 schools that earned an SPS between 65 and 74.9, which would earn them the AUS label in 2012. While schools on the Academic Watch list do not currently face sanctions, the list provides schools with notice that they will fall into AUS status if they do not raise their SPS above 75.
Today’s release by the Department also identified 31 schools that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in reading or math for identified subgroups. These schools are designated as School Improvement I (SI 1) or School Improvement 2 (SI 2) and must adhere to sanctions outlined by NCLB.
Three schools exited subgroup component failure this year by meeting their AYP for two consecutive years in the subject in which they failed. Those schools are Winbourne Elementary School in East Baton Rouge Parish, Jeanerette Senior High School in Iberia Parish, and Destrehan High School in St. Charles Parish.
For more detailed information, please click on the following links:
Preliminary List of Academically Unacceptable Schools (AUS) and Academic Watch List (2010-2011 School Year
Recovery School District Schools SPS Below 65 (2010-2011 School Year)
Preliminary Subgroup Component Failure List (2010-2011 School Year)