Louisiana’s Worthless Accountability Plan for Voucher Schools

Karran Harper Royal is founder of Parents Across America – NOLA and author of this column, cross-posted on her blog, Education Talk New Orleans.

Karran is a dynamic speaker, an expert in many areas, including special education and charters, has been featured in this comic book, and has been invited to speak before the teachers union in New Zealand this summer.  This post focuses on the hypocrisy of the privateers like the Louisiana State Superintendent John White, who demand high test scores from public school students and test-based evaluation of teachers, but considerably relax those demands when it comes to charter or private schools.

After all that fanfare about accountability, Louisiana State Superintendent John White has crafted a completely worthless accountability plan for the voucher schools. It’s a shame that so many people on the BESE [the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education] can’t read. All but two Board members voted to support the plan. Only members Lottie Beebe and Carolyn Hill voted to reject this plan and send White back to the drawing board to correct some of the concerns presented by various members of the public.

Worthless parts of the plan:

  • Unless the private school receiving publicly-funded vouchers has ten participating students per grade level taking tests AND forty total voucher students in the school, the test results will not be reported.
  • Schools will only be required to score above fifty on the Scholarship Cohort Index.
  • John White can waive any provisions of the policy without seeking approval from BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) or the Legislature.

This plan is problematic because it promotes gaming the system. The plan clearly says the schools will determine how many seats they will accept. All a school has to do is enroll nine students per grade or less than forty students total.

John White said that this plan ensures that all schools are accountable. However, based on the criteria released, 75% of the eligible voucher schools will not fall under the guidelines of the accountability plan crafted by John White.

Over the past  four years the Combined results for the voucher schools in the pilot program have had between 52-72% of its students fail to reach basic on the iLEAP and LEAP tests. What’s the purpose of a pilot if you ignore the results and expand the program even though it’s proven to be a failure?

The first stated purpose in the plan is “a common standard for student performance across the system of traditional public, charter public, and non public schools.” However, the plan as adopted completely ignores that purpose. Students in voucher schools will NOT be retained as public school students in 4th and 8th grades if they fail the LEAP test. Public schools are given a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F, but voucher schools will NOT receive a letter grade.

The State Superintendent cannot waive any part of the accountability system for public school, but he can waive any provision in the accountability plan for voucher schools. Another purpose of the adopted plan is to uphold the public trust when public funds are involved. Clearly the accountability plan presented makes a mockery of the public trust.

Posted on by admin Posted in Uncategorized

Comments are closed.