You and your principals and teachers have already started planning for the transition to more rigorous expectations in our classrooms. You are setting goals and planning assessments in line with the new standards; you are planning for collaborative time between teachers so that they can reflect on the quality of student work; and you are ensuring teachers and principals receive feedback on how their practice can meet Compass standards.
This is part of a long transition. It will not happen overnight.
The same is true of our academic policies. When standards and assessments change, so too must the policies that spell out incentives and consequences for performance. These policies include graduation requirements,Compass, and school and district accountability.
This summer the Department will bring to BESE a slate of proposals that spell out a gradual, phased-in approach to transitioning graduation requirements as well as Compass measurements. In both cases, the approach will slowly transition our system's consequences to meet the new expectations.
In the spring of 2012, BESE approved an accountability formula that aligns better with college and career readiness. This is the first part of the academic policy transition. The first letter grades under this system are to be released October 2013.
The Department's projections show that school letter grades will remain relatively steady this year. As in any year, some schools' scores will fluctuate; but overall grades are unlikely to shift dramatically. This is the case because the formula was designed to honor the progress schools have already achieved; while ACT scores below 18 do not earn points, for example, points awarded at 18 or above will compensate and keep schools steady. If you are interested in discussing your schools' projections, please contact Jessica Baghian.
District and school leaders have expressed concerns that the public will not have apples-to-apples letter grade comparisons from one year to the next. The Department agrees with this feedback, and we have proposed to BESE that for the fall of 2013, districts and schools receive two letter grades: one based on the formula from 2011-2012 (to show growth) and one based on the new formula. In future years, two grades won't be necessary, but this is a common sense step for a year of transition. Click on this overview to review further details regarding how these grades will affect Top Gains incentives and other consequences associated with letter grades.
We are transitioning much of how we do the daily work of teaching and learning. It is important that we be patient and make pragmatic decisions that honor past efforts while never hesitating to raise the bar. Thank you for providing us the feedback that helps us to see how we can best make policy in this way.
As always, thanks for all you do for our children,
Louisiana Department of Education