Common Core Testing: The results of the first year of PARCC (Common Core) testing in Louisiana and other states were so bad that the PARCC consortium decided to devise the most opaque system of "scale scores" and highly inflated cut scores you could possibly imagine. Here are a few examples: All the tests were given a maximum scale score of 850 and a minimum score of 650. No parents were ever told however, that a scale score of 650 meant that the student got between zero and 10% of the questions right. The lowest passing score of 725 meant that a student had only gotten about 30% of the questions right! The average percentage of correct answers (the raw scores) on the PARCC in Louisiana was 38%!
I spoke to a friend of mine who was a principal of a charter school who got fired because she suspended (with good reason) a kid of one of her charter board members. I asked her what did she think it takes to be a teacher today, and she said the following:
Have you noticed that the LDOE has stopped taking over low performing schools. That's because they found out that the turnaround charters don't work. They can't wait to give these schools back to the local school boards. Now they are in a rush to approve predatory charters that will succeed by picking only the best students and by leaving the rejects for the local school board to educate. But they may be killing the goose that laid the golden egg, by setting up a situation that may cause public schools to lose voter support. Loss of public support could result in the defeat of new school taxes and may actually cause the loss of critical tax renewals. Even the charters would lose their parasitic funding.
How are our students doing after 10 years of reform?
Based on test scores, which is the only thing reformers care about, Louisiana was ranked 45th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia on the NAEP tests in 2005 and now we are ranked about 47th. The passing percentage of students on the new PARCC test in English has dropped from 72% in 2013 to 69% in 2015 even though the minimum passing score has been lowered from 55% to 30%. The passing percentage in math has dropped from 70% to 60% even though the minimum passing score had been lowered to only 29%. So Louisiana has been losing ground on test scores.
John White claims that Louisiana ACT scores have improved slightly, but his numbers don't agree with those Mercedes Schnider got from the school report cards. It seems that White and his staff have manipulated ACT averages by not counting the ACT scores of students who did not attend for their full senior year. ACT scores are still dismal, particularly in the RSD. I trust Mercedes' numbers.
The charter schools in the New Orleans RSD have made a big deal of preparing their students to qualify for Ivy League colleges, but try as I may I have not found any evidence of RSD students actually making it to Ivy League schools. The charter managers did coach a few more students to apply for mostly community college acceptance. The only problem is that almost half of those registered for college never show up at college. Most applicants are not prepared for community college and since they didn't qualify for TOPS, they have no funding. In addition, our LDOE college prep policies have almost killed vocational education in Louisiana. Most of the kids graduating from the RSD are not qualified for careers or jobs.
Fortunately, because of hard work by real educators, many other public schools across the state have produced greatly improved numbers of students passing Advanced Placement courses compared to 10 years ago.