- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana remained near the bottom in the annual “Quality Counts” survey released Thursday by the publication Education Week. But the state moved up from 49th last year to 44th in the rankings and outpaced most of the nation in measurements of early childhood education.

The Quality Counts survey this year gives the state an overall grade of D-Plus.

The scores are based on a variety of factors, including the income and education of students’ households, student achievement in grades K-12, and the financing of schools.

In addition to the overall grade, the Quality Counts report grades each state in three broad categories

One is “Chances for Success,” which encompasses analyses of 13 factors including the percentage of children from poor families; the number of children with at least one college-educated parent; percentage of children enrolled in pre-school and kindergarten; and graduation rates. Louisiana received a C-minus in the category. However, a subcategory under that heading was a bright spot for the state: Louisiana ranked fourth in the nation with a B-minus in early education. The national score was D-plus.

In the School Finance category, Louisiana received a C and was ranked 19th. The category includes analyses of per-pupil spending and how education money is spread among affluent and low-income districts.

The state received a D-minus in K-12 achievement. The analysis is based on 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress scores measuring proficiency in 4th- and 8th-grade math and reading.

The percentage of students regarded as proficient ranged from about 21 percent to 26 percent, depending on the grade level and subject. Gains over the previous 10 years were noted, but the state remained near the bottom - 49th - among the 50 states and the District of Columbia when the proficiency figures, improvement percentages and other factors, including the gap between low-income students and their higher-income counterparts, were factored in.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, state Education Superintendent John White noted the progress demonstrated in the report.

“However, it also encourages us to reaffirm our efforts to ensure all students are on the path to college or a career, starting with our youngest learners where the report ranks Louisiana fourth for Early Childhood education,” White said. “We’ve made great progress, but we will not stop until Louisiana has the best education system in the country.”


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