Louisiana has created strong incentives for schools to care about proficiency and growth.
Louisiana is unique in that its testing schedule allows it to measure growth in high schools, whereas most states are not able to measure student growth after middle school.
The state’s achievement measure awards points on a graduated scale that gives students credit for reaching higher levels of performance. The state is planning to combine English-language proficiency into this assessment index on a proportional basis (where a school with a higher concentration of English learners would have a larger share of its grade based on English-language proficiency). This is an innovative idea, but some peers indicated they would like to see the state include a separate indicator with a fixed weight.
Louisiana proposes measuring student academic growth by looking at both whether the student is on track to mastery and whether he or she is growing faster or slower than peers.
This plan will give all students a clear, transparent individual growth target that would put them on track for mastery by eighth grade. Students who meet their target earn full points. If students fail to meet those targets, they earn partial credit based on how much growth they demonstrate in comparison with similar students. For this latter measure, Louisiana may want to consider using a continuous scale rather than bucketing students into broad categories.
Finally, Louisiana deserves credit for issuing informational letter grades separately for growth and achievement, further increasing transparency and perhaps demystifying what growth looks like at a school level.