Staff reports

As students across Louisiana prepare to participate in the first phase of annual state assessments later this month, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) is encouraging students, parents, and educators to take advantage of resources available to help students practice and sharpen their skills.

Louisiana's student assessment program is a key component of the state's Accountability System. The state began administering the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) test in 1999, the Graduation Exit Exam (GEE) in 2001 and the Integrated LEAP (iLEAP) in 2006. Over the course of the 11 years, the percentage of students performing at grade-level on state assessments has increased from 45 percent in 1999 to 66 percent in 2010.

"In 1999, there were many who believed Louisiana could never move this many students to perform at grade-level this quickly. But consider how many thousands of students have been impacted since we began setting expectations and holding adults accountable for meeting those expectations," State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said. "We've confirmed our students are capable of performing at grade-level or better. And while testing alone is not the answer to our challenges, it does give us a measure of our strengths and weaknesses, which is necessary for real and sustainable progress. The reality that 230,000, or one-third, of our students still aren't grade-level proficient also compe! ls us to push forward with urgency."

All state assessments are based on Grade-Level Expectations, which reflect the knowledge and skills students should have acquired at the time of testing. Students do not receive a pass or fail grade, but receive an achievement level score. The five achievement levels a student can earn on state tests are:


A student at this level has demonstrated superior performance beyond the level of mastery.


A student at this level has demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter and is well prepared for the next level of schooling.


A student at this level has demonstrated only the fundamental knowledge and skills needed for the next level of schooling.

Approac hing Basic

A student at this level has only partiall! y demonstrated the fundamental knowledge and skills needed for the next level of schooling.


A student at this level has not demonstrated the fundamental knowledge and skills needed for the next level of schooling.

Students in 4th and 8th grade participate in the high stakes LEAP test, which determines whether they will be required to attend summer school or be retained. The LEAP measures 4th and 8th grade students’ knowledge and skills in English Language Arts, math, science and social studies, and students must score Basic or above in either English or math and Approaching Basic or above in the other subject on the LEAP to advan! ce to the next grade. Fourth-graders have had to meet this requirement since 2004, while eighth-graders have had to meet this requirement since 2006.

Students in 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th grades take the state's iLEAP test, which is designed to measure student progress but does not determine whether they will be retained in their current grade. The iLEAP is referred to as an "integrated" LEAP because it combines a norm referenced test, which compares a student’s test results to the performance of students in a national sample, with a criterion-referenced test, which reports student results in terms of the state’s standards.

Louisiana's 10th and 11th grade students participate in the state's GEE. High school students must score ! Approaching Basic or above on the English and math portions of the exam, and Approaching Basic or above on either the science or the social studies components of the test in order to graduate. During the 10th grade, students take the English and math portions of the assessment. In the 11th grade, students take the science and social studies portions of the exam. Students must pass the state test to earn a standard Louisiana diploma.

However, freshmen entering high school in the 2010-11 school year and thereafter will not take the GEE.  These students must pass three End-of-Course (EOC) tests in the following categories:  English II or English III, Algebra I or Geometry, and Biology or American History.  Thus, the EOC tests will replace the GEE for graduation purposes.

In addition to these assessments, there are alternate assessments for students with disabilities: LEAP Alternative Assessment 1 (LAA1) and LEAP Alternative Assessment 2 (LAA2). Students with disabilities may participate in LAA 1, or LAA 2, or other state assessments, depending on their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

2011 Testing Schedule

For the second consecutive year the high-stakes LEAP and GEE exams will be given in two phases. The 2010-2011 testing schedule is as follows:

On March 22, 4th and 8th g! rade students will take the writing portion of the LEAP English Language Arts (ELA) exam, along with the written-response section of the math test.  These students will take the remaining portions of the ELA and math exams, as well as the science and social studies tests, on April 11-15.

Students in the 10th grade will take the writing portion of the GEE English Language Arts (ELA) exam and the written-response section of the math test on March 22. Tenth graders will take the remaining components of the math and ELA tests during the week of April 11.

Students in the 11th grade will take the science and social studies written-response items on March 22 and the remaining sections of these tests during the week of April 11.

Additionally, all students ! in grades 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 will participate in the state's iLEAP test during the week of April 11.

From April 28 - May 25, EOC tests will be administered to students currently enrolled in English II or English III, Algebra I or Geometry, and Biology or American History.

Testing Resources

Through LDOE's Testing Resource Center, which is posted on the agency's website, www.louisianaschools.net, teachers, families and students may access multiple resources.

Through interactive web-based tools, PASS Onl ine, Newt! on's Classroom and Reading Runway, students receive instructional feedback based on their responses and take tutorials in math, science or reading.

Teachers, families and students may also take advantage of Released Test Items and PASS On Paper, which can also be accessed through the Testing Resource Center.

Also, in February, schools received Sample Test Books for students in 4th, 8th, 10th and 11th grades. These Sample Test Books contain items that are similar to those that appear on the LEAP and GEE.

Additionally, as an added resource to the Sample Test Books, the LDOE will once again host its Tutoring Hotline, which is specifically centered on assisting 4th and 8th grade students and their families as they prepare to take the LEAP. Tutors assist students and their families in answering questions from the Sample Test Books. The Hotline will operate from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, beginning March 14 and ending April 8. The toll-free phone number for the Hotline is 1-877-453-2721.

Throughout the year, educators can take advantage of the state's EAGLE System, which allows teachers to develop online practice tests for students. Teachers also rely on LDOE's ! Assessment Guides, which provide descriptions of the test design and content.

"The Department is very pleased to be able to provide these valuable resources. As a former teacher, principal and superintendent, I realize the anxiety some teachers and students experience during test time," State Deputy Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler said. "But we also know that practicing helps reassure students that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to do well. So our hope is that teachers, families and students set some time aside to benefit from these tools, which are designed to help students become more comfortable and confident as they prepare for testing.

For more information, please visit www.louisianaschools.net or contact the Office of Public Affairs, Louisiana Department of Education at 225-342-3600 or toll-free at 1-877-453-2721.