White outlines school evaluation overhaul

by Heather Miller

State Superintendent John White is asking the federal government for a waiver on some of the No Child Left Behind provisions, including the removal of attendance and drop out rates as part of the formula for school performance scores.

Drop out rates and attendance at public schools would be eliminated from the formula that grades schools for performance under a new plan by state Superintendent John White to change the way schools are graded.

The Advocate's Will Sentel reports that White's plan, revealed for the first time in a meeting of Louisiana School and District Accountability Commission, raised both questions and praise from the educators, business people and parents who sit on the commission:

One key part of the proposal would change the way the state assigns letter grades to about 1,500 public schools, which are linked to school performance scores.

Under current rules, attendance and dropout rates are part of the grade for schools from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Under White's plan, those school scores would be based solely on test scores.

BESE President Penny Dastugue, a commission member named by Gov. Bobby Jindal, said she initially balked when she heard that dropout and attendance rates would be removed from school performance scores.

However, she later concluded that, since dropout and attendance figures only account for 10 percent of the score, it makes sense to link the scores only to test results.

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