Louisiana Schools Make Impressive Gains in ACT and College-Readiness

Published on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 by

We’re so thrilled to learn that Louisiana schools have increased the number of high school students earning 18+ points on the ACT! Their hard work isn’t going unnoticed, the Louisiana Department of Education sent out this press release earlier in the week:

NUMBER OF STUDENTS ACHIEVING COLLEGE-GOING ACT SCORES REACHES ALL-TIME HIGH

Statewide Public School Average Score Climbs for Third Consecutive Year

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today announced an increase in the number of high school students earning scores of 18 or higher on the ACT, allowing thousands more students since 2012 the opportunity to attend two- and four-year colleges without the requirement of remediation and making more students than ever before eligible for TOPS funding. A record 25,144 high school seniors in the class of 2016 earned a college-going score (18+), an increase of 462 students from 24,682 in 2015 and an increase of 6,837 students since 2012. Furthermore, the number of students eligible for TOPS awards at every level due to ACT achievement has reached record highs.

In 2016, the state’s average composite score for public school students increased 0.1 points, from 19.4 in 2015 to 19.5 in 2016. The state’s average composite score has increased 0.4 points since 2013, the first year access to the ACT was expanded to all high school students. Like colleges and universities, the Department of Education uses the highest composite score a student achieved on the ACT, when calculating the state, district, and school average composite scores.

Later in the summer, the ACT will release average composite scores for all students in all states.

“This continued progress on the ACT is further evidence that Louisiana’s students are as smart and as capable as any in this country,” said State Superintendent John White. “The results demonstrate once again that our state’s plan to raise expectations is working. The results also shows, however, that we cannot stop here. While more students than ever before are qualifying for universities and community colleges, too many are entering college only to withdraw later. We must continue to raise expectations, equipping every student with skills they need to succeed in education after high school.”

Economically disadvantaged students increased 0.2 points from 17.9 in 2015 to 18.1 in 2016, doubling the state growth of 0.1, and have increased 0.5 points since 2013. African-American students have likewise narrowed pernicious achievement gaps since 2012, closing the gap with their peers by 0.3 points.

In 2012, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted policy to give all high school students access to the ACT free of charge, as part of a comprehensive package to increase access to college and a career for high school students. Louisiana became the 10th state to expand ACT access to all students in 2013.

Since that year, the state has seen a dramatic increase in the number of seniors earning qualifying scores for TOPS Tech (17+), TOPS Opportunity (20+), and TOPS Honors (27+), boosting both students on the TOPS University pathway and the Jump Start TOPS Tech pathway. The number of seniors earning a TOPS-qualifying score (based on their best score) of at least 17, has increased by 3,278 since 2013 and by 7,885 since 2012.

Opportunity 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 Increase from

2012 to 2016

TOPS Tech (17+) 20,466 25,073 26,846 27,891 28,351 7,885
College-Going Score Not Requiring Remediation (18+) 18,307 22,088 23,660 24,682 25,144 6,837
TOPS Opportunity & Regional University (20+) 14,129 16,027 17,101 18,080 18,326 4,197
TOPS Performance & Statewide University (23+) 7,429 8,433 8,938 9,537 9,804 2,375
Flagship University (25+) 4,296 5,006 5,359 5,663 6,008 1,712
TOPS Honors (27+) 2,435 2,938 3,170 3,345 3,612 1,177

In addition to providing all students with access to the ACT, the Department, BESE, and schools across the state have embarked on ambitious initiatives that have expanded opportunities for high school student. Since 2012:

  • BESE adopted higher expectations through the Louisiana Student Standards.
  • The Department leads an online review of instructional materials to determine the degree of alignment with the Louisiana Student Standards to support districts with curriculum decisions.
  • The state re-made the high school accountability system to incentivize not just high school completion but also post-secondary achievements like career credentials and Advanced Placement credits.
  • Students now achieve TOPS and TOPS Tech by choosing either the Jump Start Career Diploma or the TOPS University Diploma. Every student graduates having taken a TOPS curriculum.
  • To support these diplomas, Louisiana has created dedicated funding streams in the MFP for career courses, dual enrollment courses, and other course choices.
  • Through Believe and Prepare, the state’s most successful teachers serve as mentors and train aspiring teachers, preparing them to enter the classroom ready to teach from day one.

Louisiana has also expanded on these initiatives to increase opportunity for historically underserved students.

  • Schools have created transitional 9th grade programs to serve students who otherwise would have been held back in 8th grade.
  • Act 833 allows diploma pathways for students struggling because of disabilities.
  • Students with significant disabilities (LAA 1) now can achieve a high school diploma.

Since 2012, the BESE-approved policy changes have resulted in additional, increased opportunities for high school students.

  • Louisiana’s 2015 high school graduation rate increased to an all-time high of 77.5 percent, up 2.9 percentage points since 2014 and 5.2 percentage points since 2012.
  • Louisiana’s class of 2015 Advanced Placement® results showed greater annual improvement than in any state other than Massachusetts.
  • Through Dual Enrollment in 2015, 6,260 seniors graduated with college credit, representing 15,427 credits earned. Based on the College Board report, Trends in College Pricing, at an average rate of $243.80 per credit hour, the total potential cost savings for the 2015 graduates and families was approximately $12,188,902.

For more information on state and district ACT average composite scores, please use the following links:

2016 State and District ACT Average Composite Scores

ACT Score Release PowerPoint Presentation