New education report ranks La. No. 23 nationwide

by Heather Miller

The state's improved national education rankings could help Gov. Bobby Jindal in his second-term push for statewide education reform.

Despite a failing grade for overall student achievement, a new survey from Education Week gives Louisiana's education system a "C" grade and ranks it No. 23 in the country.

According to The Times-Picayune website, the "Quality Counts" survey finds that Louisiana scored 77.2, which is slightly higher than the national average of 76.5.

The survey gives Louisiana an "A" for standards, assessments and accountability, though the state earned an "F", or 59.1, under K-12 achievement:

The move comes soon after two key changes in public education governance in Louisiana. A new state superintendent of education, John White, was approved Monday by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. White is a former New York City school official who last year took over as head of the Recovery School District -- the state agency that took over most New Orleans public schools after Hurricane Katrina and also is overseeing poorly performing schools in other parts of the state.

The rankings also could bolster Gov. Bobby Jindal's plans for education changes in this year's legislative session. Jindal has supported the state accountability program, which includes mechanisms for state takeovers of failing schools that do not improve. However, he also has made it clear that he wants more changes. He helped the campaigns of several BESE members in last year's elections and strongly supported White for the top education post.

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