Our Views: Not great, but better

Every schoolboy is a political genius at spinning a D- on the report card as success.

It’s better than the F last year, right?

Like most parents, the people of Louisiana cannot be happy with the slight improvement in kindergarten through 12th grade in the annual “Quality Counts” education report.

True, last year it was an F in student achievement, but the annual ranking by Education Week magazine said the slight improvement wasn’t any great shakes. The overall achievement score, largely based on the National Assessment of Education Progress, was 60, only good enough for 49th among the states.

The good news about Quality Counts is not new, as it has regularly been more positive about Louisiana’s efforts to drag itself off the bottom of the pile. The report gave Louisiana an overall grade of C-plus when numerous factors — including school financing, buildings and capacity, and factors affecting the teaching profession — are considered.

We are particularly pleased that Louisiana continues to earn an A for its school accountability efforts, with high scores for assessments and standards. Early childhood education efforts also received an A.

Those are the difference, if we can spin the results a bit ourselves, between the student achievement score — where we are — and the quality of the efforts that the state is making to go somewhere more positive,

And there were gains in NAEP scores, and the gap between poor and more affluent students in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math narrowed in the latest report.

That’s good news, as Louisiana desperately needs to bring students from poorer families into the economic and social mainstream, and that is the goal of our efforts in public education.

We don’t want to be like little Johnny, pushing a D- as a good grade, but there are parts of this latest report card that are positive.

Given the huge difficulty of reaching students — and engaging parents — in poverty-stricken communities in Louisiana, whether urban or rural, we know that bringing up our grade will require time as well as effort.

It’s not a good grade, yet. But we hope to make it better.