"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Spinning While You LEAP Into the Failure Abyss

The Louisiana Department of Education is more practiced at bad new than the "folks" in the White House. Of course, they have been at it longer. Louisiana's war against the poor and the dark-skinned began in 1999 with the LEAP (Louisiana Education Assessment Program). Yesterday the State put out a press release puffing themselves up for the results on the big Summer of testing that followed the big Spring of testing which followed the big Year of preparing for testing, etc. Here's the opening to the Press Release:
BATON ROUGE, La. – More than 9,000 Louisiana 4th and 8th grade students succeeded in passing the LEAP test after taking summer school courses and retaking at least a portion of the test, according to results released Monday. About 25,000 4th and 8th graders participated in the summer retest.
And here is the way the Daily Iberian reported it yesterday:

Statewide numbers released Monday show about 9,000 students will move on to fifth or ninth grades after passing the LEAP test this summer.
Sounds great, doesn't it? What the LDE doesn't brag about is down in the pdf files made available on Monday. The facts are that 10, 762 8th graders will repeat the eighth grade this coming year (if they don't drop out), and 8,177 4th graders will repeat the fourth grade this coming year. So while 9,000 passed the LEAP re-test this summer, 18,939 did not:
  • 10,762 Eighth Grade repeaters
  • 8,177 Fourth Grade repeaters
The Graduate Exit Exam (GEE) goes unmentioned in the text of Monday's glowing Press Release. Good reason from a PR perspective. The results were even more devastating. The GEE is given the first time in 10th grade, and students must pass (Approaching Basic) math, reading, and either science or social studies to earn a diploma.

In Spring 2007 41,346 high schoolers took the Math part of GEE and 8,075 failed it.

Of the 8,075 failures, 5,303 took the Summer retest, and 3,524 youngsters failed that. With the 2,772 who did not retake the Math part and the 3,524 who failed the retest, there will be at least 6,296 students who failed the mandatory Math section of the GEE. Those 6,296 failures represents a 15% failure rate among 10th and 11th graders, and that does not take into account the thousands who dropped out between 8th grade and now.

Bottom line: Louisiana has a total of 25,235 failures this year in grades 4, 8, and 10 as a result of a single test that is directly correlated to family income levels. This is how Louisiana is getting entirely color-blind in the 21st Century.

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