In terms of the grades Louisiana gives to schools, high schools had a really good year. Unfortunately, some of that was because of a generous new rating scale from the state, not in terms of real performance in the classroom.
To the extent there was improvement in the high schools, we applaud it. But some legislators want to freeze those scores and hold on to them — whether the scores reflect academic achievement or not. The Senate ought to look very carefully at House Bill 466 by Rep. Kenny Havard, R-Jackson, for two reasons.
The first reason is that the bill freezes the rating standard at that in place in 2011-12, thus blocking corrections that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is making in the rating formula. Many experts, in state government and from outside organizations, such as Educate Now in New Orleans, suspect that tougher standards might lower some high school scores.
If so, it will be a correction in the formula that lawmakers ought to welcome instead of reject. The state has embarked on a long-term process of accountability for public education. A rating system needs to be an accurate barometer of achievement. A barometer set at a political “normal” does not tell anyone what schools have problems on the horizon.
Additionally, we question this intervention by lawmakers into the role of BESE. That board of mostly elected members and a few appointed by the governor has the constitutional authority to oversee public schools. Lawmakers intruding into technical decisions of BESE will make accountability into even more of a political football than it is now.