LOUISIANA EDUCATION NEWS
January 2006

IN THIS ISSUE:
LOUISIANA TEACHER IMPROVEMENT EFFORTS AND EFFORTS TO RAISE STANDARDS AND ACCOUNTABILITY RANK FIRST IN NATION 
 
"Quality Counts 2006," published by the national magazine Education Week, is the publication's 10th annual report card on the state of school reform across the United States. Louisiana scored highest in two crucial categories.
 
Louisiana's grade for improving teacher quality was 94. South Carolina came in second.  The Palmetto State's grade for improving teacher quality increased one point to a 93.  South Carolina and Louisiana were the only two states to receive letter grades of A.  Across the nation, grades ranged from those two A's to D's received by seven states.
 
Louisiana was one of only eight states to receive an A in "Quality Counts 2006" for its efforts to raise standards and accountability.  Louisiana was ranked first with a 98, followed by New York with a 97.  Three states earned Ds and one earned an F.
 
In the area of school climate, Louisiana improved its score and its ranking compared to 2005. The state received a "C-", up from a "D+" in 2005 and increased its score to 71 for 2006, compared to 67 in 2005. School climate was the only category in which Louisiana received a lower-than-average-grade. The national average for school climate was a "C+". Additionally, Louisiana received a "B" for its equity of resources and ranked seventh in the nation out of fifty states and the District of Columbia. The state's score of 83 was down two points, from 85 in 2005.
 
To see the complete report, click here.

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LOUISIANA'S PRE-K PROGRAM SHOWS STRONG PROGRESS FOR FOURTH YEAR
 
BATON ROUGE, LA—For the fourth year in a row, Louisiana's nationally acclaimed pre-kindergarten program for at-risk four-year-olds, LA 4, showed strong and consistent progress in language, print, and mathematics. Results from the 2004–2005 school year were presented to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education during its January meeting. LA 4 served 6,522 students statewide in 2004–2005.
 
The report was presented by Dr. Craig Ramey,  Director of the Georgetown Center on Health and Education. Ramey has teamed with representatives of the Lloyd J. Rockhold Center for Child Development, the Center for Child Development at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the University of Alabama Center on Education Accountability to evaluate the LA 4 program annually. The findings show:
"You are literally unsurpassed in the country," said Dr. Craig Ramey. "This has never before been done in the country—such a long range study of children and the effect of education in their lives. These are changes that are very dramatic. These are scores that people are paying attention to all around the country. Those who need it the most are gaining the most."
 
Districts that participated in LA 4 during the 2004–2005 school year included Lafayette, St. Martin, Vermilion, DeSoto, LaSalle, Calcasieu, East Baton Rouge, St. Tammany, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Orleans, Evangeline, Iberia, Natchitoches, Rapides, Tangipahoa, Iberville, City of Bogalusa, Washington, City of Baker, and Zachary Community.
 
The Louisiana Department of Education staff conducted the ECERS-R (Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised) in a random sample of classrooms participating in the program. This assessment takes into account seven areas related to program quality. A compilation of the assessment scores for 63 classrooms rated the LA 4 classrooms "good to excellent," with an overall score of 6.0 on a scale of 1.0 to 7.0. This score is higher than the average rating of other pre-kindergarten programs in other states. Evaluators determined the scores based on factors including certified teachers, a child-to-adult ratio of no more than 10 to 1, and use of a research-based and developmentally appropriate Pre-K curriculum.
 
Ramey also evaluated the state's Starting Points Pre-K program, which serves 814 students and has had comparable outcomes to that of the LA 4 program. Starting Points is a program that also serves students who are eligible for free and reduced-priced meals and has the same program quality indicators as used for LA 4.

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NEW REPORT ON ADULT LITERACY LEVELS, FIRST SINCE 1992, SHOWS NEED FOR HIGH SCHOOL REFORM
 
Significant improvement in African-American literacy; overall math skills rise.
 
Washington, D.C.—American adults can read a newspaper or magazine about as well as they could a decade ago, but have made significant strides in performing literacy tasks that involve computation, according to the first national study of adult literacy since 1992.
 
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), released December 15th by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), found little change between 1992 and 2003 in adults' ability to read and understand sentences and paragraphs or to understand documents such as job applications.
 
"One adult unable to read is one too many in America," said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who today announced plans to coordinate adult education efforts in 2006 across multiple federal agencies. "We must take a comprehensive and preventive approach, beginning with elementary schools and with special emphasis in our high schools. We must focus resources toward proven, research-based methods to ensure that all adults have the necessary literacy skills to be successful."
 
African Americans scored higher in 2003 than in 1992 in all three categories, increasing sixteen points in quantitative, eight points in document, and six points in prose literacy. Overall, adults have improved in document and quantitative literacy with a smaller percentage of adults in 2003 in the Below Basic category compared to 1992. Whites, African Americans, and Asian/Pacific Islanders have improved in all three measures of literacy with a smaller percentage in 2003 in the Below Basic category compared to 1992.
 
Hispanic adults showed a decrease in scores for both prose and document literacy and a higher percentage in the Below Basic category. The report also showed that five percent of U.S. adults, about 11 million people, were termed "nonliterate" in English, meaning interviewers could not communicate with them or that they were unable to answer a minimum number of questions.
 
NAAL in 2003 assessed a nationally representative sample of more than 19,000 Americans age 16 and older, most in their homes and some in prisons. NCES, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, conducted the assessment in both 1992 and 2003.
 
NAAL uses three categories to define English-language literacy: prose, document, and quantitative. Prose literacy includes the skills needed to understand continuous text, such as newspaper articles. Document literacy is the ability to understand the content and structure of documents such as prescription drug labels. Quantitative literacy involves using numbers in text, such as computing and comparing the cost per ounce of food items.
 
NAAL reports literacy in each category using a 0-500 scale score. Scores are then grouped in four literacy levels: Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate, and Proficient. Below Basic is the lowest level and indicates having "no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills." Those who can perform "complex and challenging" tasks are considered at the Proficient level.
 
The report, A First Look at the Literacy of America's Adults in the 21st Century, analyzed literacy results based on a variety of factors, including race/ethnicity, gender, age, and level of educational attainment. A companion report, Key Concepts and Features of the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, describes the assessment's key features and major data types. It was also released today.
 
Other report highlights:
To put its findings in perspective, NAAL also reported on U.S. population changes between 1992 and 2003. During the decade, the percentage of white adults decreased from 77 to 70 percent, while the percentage of Hispanic adults increased from eight to 12 percent. The percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander adults doubled (to 4 percent). The percentage of adults who spoke only English before starting school decreased from 86 to 81 percent.
 
To view the reports and for more information, visit  nces.ed.gov/naal

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STUDY SHOWS EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT GENDER GAP GROWING—BOYS FALLING BEHIND
   
The large academic achievement gap between males and females is growing significantly decreased, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Education.
 
In elementary school, female fourth-graders outperformed their male peers in reading (2003) and writing (2002) assessments. Gender differences in mathematics achievement have been small and fluctuated slightly between 1990 and 2003. At the secondary school level, the gap in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading achievement grew from ten points in 1992 to 16 points in 2002, with males performing lower than females. Females entering college baccalaureate programs were more likely than their male counterparts to graduate within six years. In 2001, the overall participation rate of females in adult education was higher than that of their male peers (53 percent vs. 46 percent).  Other findings are that:
"It is clear that girls are taking education very seriously and that they have made tremendous strides," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "The issue now is that boys seem to be falling behind. We need to spend some time researching the problem so that we can give boys the support to succeed academically."
   
To download or view the report, please click here.

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LOUISIANA GAINS IN MATHEMATICS SIGNIFICANTLY OUTPACED NATION
   
A decade of state efforts to carry out standards-based education shows a positive relationship with gains in student achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, according to "Quality Counts 2006." For the first time ever, the 10th edition of the report, by Education Week, examines the progress that states have made on a core set of policy indicators related to standards-based reform. The report was first released in 1997. An original analysis conducted for "Quality Counts at 10: A Decade of Standards-Based Education" by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center finds that state efforts to devise standards, tests, and accountability systems in education are positively related with gains on NAEP reading and math tests in grades 4 and 8 from 1996 to 2005.
 
For the 10th edition of "Quality Counts," the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey, conducted a series of special analyses of NAEP scores between 1992 and 2005. The analyses highlight how each state's improvement over the past decade compares with the performance of the nation as a whole. The report also takes a much closer look than previous studies at which states have made significant progress in closing achievement gaps between black and white, Hispanic and white, and poor and non-poor students.

The results in mathematics are particularly encouraging. Nationally, NAEP scores in fourth-grade math have increased by 18.5 points on a 500-point scale—or nearly two grade levels—since 1992, near the start of the standards movement. Grade 8 math performance improved by 10.7 points. Seven states had gains in mathematics that significantly outpaced those for the nation as a whole in both grades 4 and 8: Arkansas, Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. North Carolina posted the largest gains: 28.4 points at grade 4 and 23.4 points at grade 8. Other states saw significantly less growth than the nation as a whole at both grade levels: Iowa, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah.

In contrast, the national average in reading barely budged from 1992 to 2005, inching up just two points in grades 4 and 8. However, even here, somewhat better news lies beneath the surface. The scores for black, Hispanic, and low-income youngsters in fourth-grade reading increased at nearly triple the national average, or about two-thirds of a grade level. Delaware was the only state whose reading gains significantly outpaced the national average in both grade 4 between 1992 and 2005 and in grade 8 between 1998 and 2005. But Florida, Maryland, and New York experienced reading gains significantly above the national average in grade 4, and Massachusetts and Wyoming did so in grade 8.

 
"Quality Counts" celebrates its 10th year with a special online version, available free of charge for a limited time. A paid subscription will be required to view the entire report online after February 4. The online version of "Quality Counts 2006" provides features to help users navigate the report's rich content and find the data they need quickly and easily. Each feature story includes links to key sources and organizations. In addition, users can quickly access each state's policy report card using an interactive state map. A special data-analysis feature enables users to review all indicators for a single state or compare results across two or more states. Fifty-state data tables are downloadable in PDF and Excel formats. For the first time, the release of "Quality Counts 2006" features special online extras not available in the print version. For instance, users can download individualized reports for the fifty states and the District of Columbia that highlight and expand on state-specific findings from "Quality Counts." These state highlights reports provide a wealth of information on state policy and student performance, including trend data over the past  ten years.  
 
"Quality Counts 2006" is located here.

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TECH-SAVVY STUDENTS STUCK IN TEXT-DOMINATED SCHOOLS

Education/Evolving
's report "Real Impact: Student Opinions for a Change" is divided into two major sets of findings. The first set describes our nation's increasingly tech-savvy students and the various ways in which they use computers and the Internet. The second outlines students' frustrations with our nation's still text-dominated schools, as well as students' ideas for how adult education policy and school designers could better meet their needs.

To see full report, click here.

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FREE STUDENT WORKBOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PREVIEW (Advertisement)
 
Queue, Inc. offers previews of its Louisiana test preparation workbooks to public schools.  Queue publishes test prep books in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Composition for Grades 3-high school, as well as Practice Tests in Math and English Language Arts.
 
Queue also offers Math and Reading workbooks for grades 1 and 2, and publishes a wide variety of other workbooks in Literature, Science, History, Government, Health, and ESL.  Samples of student workbooks are available for preview.
 
For further information and to order free previews, click here to visit our Louisiana Workbooks webpage.

or call: 800-232-2224
 
or fax: 800-775-2729
 
or e-mail: jdk@queueinc.com
 
or write: Queue, Inc., 1 Controls Dr., Shelton, CT 06484
 
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