La. moves toward higher standards for students, schools

(The Daily Advertiser) – Louisiana Superintendent John White said it is crucial that federal officials approve the state’s new education plan by the start of the 2017-18 school year.

“We cannot drop a plan on our schools and school systems, families and educators, in the middle of the year,” White said in a Monday conference call.

For the past several months, educators and stakeholders from across Louisiana have been weighing in on the state’s proposal to comply with the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

White released a second draft of the state’s plan Monday.

Under the proposal, more students will have to reach the mastery level, rather than basic, in core subjects for schools to receive an “A” in accountability scores.

The state has a goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2025, as well as raising the average ACT score to a 21.

White said the proposal also calls for schools to receive more credit for students’ academic growth. This could account for up to 25 percent of a school’s annual performance score.

“We know that good schools don’t just get high marks with kids,” White said. “Good schools take all kids and grow their performance and their development over time.”

The new law could allow for more funding opportunities for schools. White said the state will solicit grant applications from schools that have had a “D” or “F” for the past three years. These schools could be eligible for up to $500,000 in federal grants for programs and initiatives.

Smaller amounts could be available to higher-rated schools that have student populations who historically struggle, such as students with disabilities or English-language learners.

The law could also provide federal funds for more courses, such as chemistry and physics at rural high schools, and music, arts and foreign languages in elementary schools.

The updated framework is available online at louisianabelieves.com. Various stakeholders will review the plan and its components over the coming weeks. The state is scheduled to submit its final plan to the U.S. Department of Education this spring.

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