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How Much Are Louisiana Students Learning? State Releases New Report

The state released the latest "Top Growth" scores Tuesday.
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The state released the latest "Top Growth" scores Tuesday.

The Louisiana Department of Education has just released a report on how quickly students are improving academically from year to year. It shows that, like last year, less than half of students are on track to master important math, reading and writing skills.

The state uses standardized tests to measure how well schools are preparing students. Statewide, 36 percent of students tested at the "mastery" level in all their subjects last school year. But the state also wants to know much progress students are making, even if they're not yet at "mastery." The state considers mastery to be grade-level.

Last year, the state started measuring “Top Growth.” State superintendent John White says rather than showing how many students are on grade-level, Top Growth shows how much progress students are making year to year.

"We’re trying to give a different view of school quality," White said in a press conference Tuesday. "This is meant to measure not exclusively 'Are students performing at a high level?'" White said, "But are they progressing toward performing at a high level."

Students can earn "Top Growth" on their state standardized tests in two different ways: They are either progressing fast enough to earn "mastery" on their tests by the end of eighth grade or end of high school; or their scores grew more year to year than peers with similar advantages or challenges. Statewide, 46 percent of students showed Top Growth - the same as in 2018.

White said the way Top Growth is designed, the statewide numbers are unlikely to change significantly year to year. It's more useful for showing educators which subjects students are growing fastest or slowest in, which groups of students are growing faster or slower, and which schools are doing the best job at bringing students up to speed, White said.

The scores show statewide students grew faster in reading and writing than in math.

Students in Orleans Parish grew slightly faster than students statewide, and Jefferson Parish students made slightly less progress than the state average. Below are the schools with the highest percentages of students earning Top Growth in the New Orleans area.

Here are the schools with the highest percentage of students meeting Top Growth in the New Orleans area.
Credit Louisiana Department of Education
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Here are the schools with the highest percentage of students meeting Top Growth in the New Orleans area.

Students in East and West Baton Rouge Parishes made slower progress than the state average. Here are the schools in the Baton Rouge area with the highest Top Growth:

Here are the schools in the Baton Rouge area with the highest percentages of students meeting Top Growth.
Credit Louisiana Department of Education
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Here are the schools in the Baton Rouge area with the highest percentages of students meeting Top Growth.

The growth scores will impact schools’ A to F letter grades. Those come out later this fall.

Copyright 2021 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Jess Clark is WWNO's Education Desk reporter. Jess comes to the station after two years as Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting for (Chapel Hill). Her reporting has aired on national programs, including NPR's All Things Considered, Here & Now from WBUR, and NPR's Weekend Edition.