Cade Brumley

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley speaks with reporters on Jan. 27, 2021.

(The Center Square) – Discussion that was to begin this week on a plan to overhaul how Louisiana rates its schools has been put on hold after critics spoke out against it.

State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley introduced the proposal, which would reduce the number of schools that receive grades of D or F.

Academic growth and how students compare with their peers account for 25% of a school’s annual performance score, which is translated to a letter grade. The new plan would bump that to 38%.

Brumley said 54% of schools with a grade of F and 80% of schools with a grade of D would get an A or a B for student growth under his plan.

Critics said this would inflate scores and make it appear as though students and schools are performing better than they are. They also said Louisiana differs from most states by awarding points for student growth compared with their peers rather than for improving their own test scores.

On the National Assessment for Educational Progress, often called “the nation’s report card,” Louisiana consistently ranks near the bottom on the standardized testing that measures math, science and reading proficiency at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

“The growth piece needs more consensus,” Brumley said. “I am not disputing that.”

The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education removed the item from its June meeting agenda because of the dispute, saying only it would be taken up at a future date.

“After digging into accountability recommendations and having questions myself, hearing from a variety of stakeholders and advocates on all sides, and hearing from other board members, BESE leadership is prepared to pull this off the agenda,” BESE President Sandy Holloway said in a statement.

Brumley said his proposal came from a recommendation made by a BESE advisory panel called the Accountability Commission, which wanted to see academic growth account for 47% of school scores.

Controversy also arose over Brumley’s idea to give schools credit for students who score at least a 17 on the ACT. A 17, less than half of the total 36 points available, is in the 35th percentile, meaning that student performed better than 35 percent of test takers.

Schools currently get no points for students who score 17, 70 points for those scoring 18 and 80 points for those scoring 19. Brumley’s recommendation is to give schools 80 points for students who score 17, 18 or 19.