This opinion piece from NSNO CEO Patrick Dobard appeared in The Advocate on August 23, 2021. Read the full article here.
Our children’s lives and learning are impacted every day by longstanding inequities. Standardized tests, like the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, can make those inequities painfully apparent. A few weeks ago, the results of the latest LEAP came out, and they are no exception.
In 2019, before COVID-19 hit Louisiana, about half of the White students in our state were on grade level (scoring “mastery” or “advanced” on the LEAP), compared to one in five Black students. Scores were also uneven across economic lines; only one in four of Louisiana’s students classified by the state as economically disadvantaged were on grade level.
In the spring of 2020, there were no LEAP assessments, as schools and communities collectively reeled from the start of the pandemic. Standardized tests are not a complete picture of children’s knowledge and skills, nor do they demonstrate determination or intelligence. They do, however, help us measure the extent to which students have mastered grade-level standards.
This year, we felt it was critical to understand that, and to see the impact of the pandemic on students’ progress. We also felt the results would douse senseless claims that inequities in Louisiana are not as entrenched as they seem. We felt they’d make clear that we need more funding and focus for schools whose students experience the most inequities.