BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – How high schools are graded in Louisiana could be changing.
The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) was expected to vote Tuesday, Oct. 11 on altering The Louisiana State, District, and State Accountability System, but are holding off until they can get more answers.
The fear is the new grading system could disproportionately impact rural and metropolitan school districts, widening the gap between students in higher and lower economic areas.
One way schools could get a higher score is by giving students access to receive college credits. President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System Monty Sullivan is advocating for the change.
“Really promoting the notion of careers in technical education is just as important as the academic paths of high school,” Sullivan said.
But who would pay for the college credit or the other programs that would allow schools to score better? BESE District 8 Representative Preston Castille said there are a lot more questions than answers.
“This is a very good opportunity but on the other hand how do we pay for it?” Castille said.
But not all are fully on board, including the Superintendent of Madison Parish Dr. Charlie Butler. Dr. Butler said that he is all for holding his school accountable, but if BESE requires him to provide programs that he might not be able to afford or if those opportunities aren’t available in his area, his school’s grade is going to suffer.
“It impacts us a lot. That’s a new formula and we did a simulation of the new formula most of our school’s scores would decrease,” said Dr. Butler.
While having a lower grade does not directly impact funding to the district, it could mean parents pulling students from the public school — resulting in less money.
“It also impacts the area that you’re staying in… just depletes the community’s confidence of lowering your score,” Dr. Butler said.
Castille hears the concerns but sees the opportunities.
“We want to make sure that our children have the best skills and trainings before they graduate from high school,” Castille said.
Plus, larger school districts such as the EBR School System could be more prepared if the grading system changes.
“We have so many kids in the school system I think whatever the accountability metrics is, it’s not going to change our strategy,” said EBR School System Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse.
BESE ultimately decided not to vote on this Tuesday, instead, they will revisit the topic on Nov. 10.