The number of public schools facing state sanctions rose by 33 percent this year amid tougher state standards, officials said Monday.
A total of 180 schools are listed as academically unacceptable, up from 135 last year, said Barry Landry, a spokesman for the state Department of Education.
The list represents 13 percent of public schools statewide.
Penny Dastugue, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the figures are actually encouraging.
Dastugue noted that 84 schools that were below the new, more rigorous standard last year improved enough to stay off the list this time.
“I think it is amazing,” she said.
Schools have to achieve minimum scores on performance evaluations to avoid state sanctions.
The minimum this time is 75 out of 200 points, up from 65 last year.
Backers of the higher standard said it would improve student performance.
Opponents said it is unfair to struggling school districts.
The scores are based mostly on test results, including LEAP, which fourth- and eighth-graders have to pass for promotion and iLEAP, another standardized test given to students in grades three, five, six and seven.
The list of troubled schools is usually released near the end of July because students generally have the option of transferring to higher-performing schools.
Schools on the list that fail to show sufficient gains can be taken over by the state after four years.
This year’s results were sent to school districts on Friday.
The number of schools listed as academically unacceptable typically shoots up when the minimum score is increased.
Last year 264 public schools scored below 75 compared to 180 this year.
Dastugue said one reason may stem from efforts by superintendents to improve letter grades, which are issued in October. “It proves once again that when you measure something it gets results,” she said.
Dastague said that roughly one in four public schools was within five points of a higher letter grade when the results were announced last year.
“Anecdotally a lot of superintendents have told me they put a new focus on those schools to try to move up their letter grade,” she said. “I think you are seeing the result of that.”
Dastugue also noted that BESE voted in 2010 to move the minimum score to 75 in 2012. “Because the bar has been out there for two years, they have known about it and rose to the challenge,” she said.
Officials with the state Department of Education typically issue a news release, or hold a news conference, to discuss the results.
Landry said neither is planned at this time.
Scott Norton, who was assistant state superintendent, used to play a key role in analyzing academically unacceptable schools.
Norton recently left the department for a job with the Council of Chief state School Officers in Washington, D.C.
Under state rules, schools face increasing sanctions each year that they are listed as academically unacceptable.
They are also required to offer new strategies aimed at improving academic achievement, including after-school tutoring.
The minimum score that schools had to achieve was 30 in 1999, when Louisiana’s school accountability program was launched.
It was raised to 45 in 2003, 60 in 2005 and 65 in 2011.
In response to questions the department said that, in 1999, 56 percent of schools statewide scored below 75 compared with 13 percent now.