Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

BATON ROUGE, La. - A record number of schools in Louisiana earned an A this year, according to school report cards released today by the Louisiana Department of Education. The number of schools earning an A rose from 98 last year to 163 this year. Statewide, 36 percent of schools earned an A or B, up from 28 percent last year, and D and F schools dropped from 44 percent in 2011 to 36 percent this year.

"Schools across Louisiana continue to make progress, which means more children are gaining the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers," said State Superintendent of Education John White. "While this year's grades are good news, schools will need to continue to work hard to maintain these good grades as Louisiana raises standards in the coming years."

This year, 983 schools made progress and 440 schools were designated a Top Gains school, which are schools that improved their School Performance Score by or beyond a pre-determined growth target. Top Gains schools earn monetary rewards for educational purposes within the school.

While the number of F schools increased from last year, from 115 to 157, the increase in this category was the result of a more rigorous grade scale used this year. This year, schools had to earn a School Performance Score of at least 75 to avoid earning an F, up from 65 last year. The number of schools earning a score below 65 actually dropped, from 115 to 70 - more evidence that raising the bar also raises student achievement.

"Reforms are working," said White. "Every time we raise standards, students and schools rise to the challenge. We raised the bar this year and we saw schools improve in every grade level. We will continue to raise the bar until all students achieve."

For this school year, schools will be graded, in part, based on more rigorous writing prompts. In the 2013-2014 school year, schools will be graded based on tests with more rigorous writing questions for all subjects - English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. All 11th graders will also take the ACT. The following year, 2014-2015, tests will continue to increase rigor. In 2014-2015, Louisiana will begin using rigorous assessments the state has designed with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).