Louisiana students improve on LEAP Tests

BATON ROUGE, La.– Louisiana student performance improved in social studies and remained steady in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics on recent Louisiana Educational Assessment Program tests, also known as LEAP 2025. Students and schools demonstrated reasonable improvement in the first year of the state’s plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“Everyday, educators across the state are committed to ensuring that every child, even those who struggle the most, has the opportunity to thrive. The results released today are a testament to those efforts,” said State Superintendent John White. “But those same results also illuminate persistent struggles, such as gaps among our historically disadvantaged student groups and their peers or our students’ grasp of fundamental mathematics skills. As we continue to implement Louisiana’s ESSA plan, we must maintain clear communication about these barriers and our progress in overcoming them.”

 

LEAP 2025 includes assessments of ELA, mathematics, science, and social studies for grades 3-12. The tests measure the knowledge and skills contained in the state’s content standards for that particular grade. Student scores are reported on five levels: Unsatisfactory, Approaching Basic, Basic, Mastery, or Advanced. Mastery and above is considered proficient, or ready for the next grade level.
The LEAP has evolved as the state’s standards have become more challenging. In 2016-2017, assessments in ELA, mathematics, and social studies shifted online in grades 3-8, as they had been in high school for a decade, and a new social studies assessment for grades 3-8 was implemented. In 2017-2018, new high school assessments in English I and II, Algebra I, Geometry and U.S. History were implemented to better align with grades 3-8, and a science assessment for grades 3-8 aligned to the revised standards was field tested.
The 2018 LEAP 2025 results, released today by the Louisiana Department of Education, detail the percentage of students scoring Mastery and above for grades 3-8 last year and this year. For the first time, the percentage of students scoring Mastery and above is also presented for grades 3-12 to show continuous student performance across all tested grade levels. The 2018 results show:
Overall, results on ELA and mathematics assessments remained steady in 2018. As expected, the percentage of students scoring Mastery and above in the second year of the new standards-aligned social studies assessment saw a larger increase, by two percent, from 2017.
Subject
2016-2017
Grades 3-8
% Mastery and Above
2017-2018
Grades 3-8
% Mastery and Above
2017-2018
Grades 3-12
% Mastery and Above
ELA
42
43
43
Mathematics
32
32
33
Social Studies
25
27
N/A
Statewide, historically disadvantaged students are improving in ELA, mathematics, and social studies, but their overall performance and rate of improvement remain lower than that of their peers.
Student Subgroup
2016-2017
Grades 3-8
% Mastery and Above
2017-2018
Grades 3-8
% Mastery and Above
2017-2018
Grades 3-12 (Grades 3-8, English I & II, Algebra I, Geometry)
% Mastery and Above
All Students
33
34
35
Economically Disadvantaged
25
26
27
Black or African American
20
21
21
Students with Disabilities
11
11
10
The results released today signal Louisiana must continue to address persistent challenges and remove barriers to student success. Moving forward, the state will employ a number of strategies including:
  • Strengthening essential mathematics skills. Today’s results highlight a need for stronger mathematics instruction statewide, particularly in later elementary and middle grades, to help students to build better mathematics reasoning and general content knowledge. In 2018-2019, the Department will support school systems with implementation of high quality curricula, expand Content Leader trainings, and focus on supports for struggling students.
  • Building a foundation of early literacy. Research shows the years before third grade are vital to students, and the key skills students develop one year must be built upon and reinforced the next. Unfortunately, many students in Louisiana lack access to a high quality continuum of learning. In 2018-2019, the Department is supporting pilots of standards-aligned performance measures in grades K-2 intended to focus and drive instruction in these early grades.
Today’s release also marks the first of three releases in the state’s effort to provide better information to educators and families regarding student progress. Starting today, school systems can begin sending home student reports for LEAP 2025 ELA, mathematics, and social studies to families and students, along with a copy of the Parent Guide to the LEAP 2025 Student Reports. Translated versions of the Parent Guide are available in the Family Support Toolbox library on the Department’s website.
School systems will also use LEAP 2025 results as one source of information with which to determine supports students need. Under state law, students who have not met basic proficiency standards must receive intensive support over the summer or throughout the year.
Next, the Department will release preliminary 2017-2018 student progress results for schools and teachers showing how well students are progressing toward Mastery. Value-added results will be released to school systems in August 2018 to provide teachers with information on how students improved relative to their peers during the 2017-2018 school year. More than 6,500 school leaders and Teacher Leaders from nearly every school system in the state were provided with support during the 2018 Teacher Leader Summit on how to use these data to tailor their instruction, and additional resources will be provided at training sessions this fall.
Finally, starting this fall, the state will reward schools not only for students’ outright performance on state tests but also for how much students improve throughout the school year. A new “Student Progress Index” will be added to the accountability system and will account for 25 percent of an elementary or middle school’s overall school performance score and 12.5 percent of a high school’s overall grade. Those scores, their accompanying letter grade equivalent, and school profiles will be made available through the Louisiana School Finder this fall.

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