Sarah Carr / WWNO

As the stakes grow higher for standardized tests, so too does the desire to test more students — including younger and younger ones. WWNO wraps up its series "Behind the Test."

The three-year-olds at Kids of Excellence child care center learn largely through play. Kristi Givens, the center’s director, tries to make sure they are ready for big school by the time they leave.

Mallory Falk / WWNO

WWNO continues its series "Behind the Test" with a look at standardized testing through the lens of test anxiety. In the weeks leading up to the LEAP test, teachers do a lot to prepare students: drilling them on crucial skills, giving out practice tests, even holding pep rallies to boost confidence. But what about preparing students to cope with test-related anxiety?

Brittany Healy is leading a small group of fifth graders in a guided imagery activity. They’re sprawled out on a couch and sunken into bean bag chairs. Eyes shut, arms loose at their sides.

Flickr user midnightpeace_90

WWNO continues its series “Behind the Test” with a look at test security. The paper booklets, and students’ answers inside, can determine things like teacher pay or the very existence of a school. It takes a lot of effort — and people — to keep the testing materials secure through delivery, administering the test, turning them in and then scoring.

The booklets and answer sheets for Louisiana’s LEAP tests come from a company called Data Recognition Corporation in Minnesota. When the Recovery School District's tests arrive they go straight to a warehouse.

Blue Square Thing / Flickr

School is winding up for the year, and students have the state LEAP test behind them. That’s the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, the standardized test used to measure students’ skills — and, increasingly, to size up teachers and schools as a whole.

This week, as schools await their results, WWNO explores the world of LEAP beyond the test itself, in our "Behind The Test" series. We look behind-the-scenes at test security, emotions around testing, and the growing influence of tests.

Private Schools Losing Students Across Louisiana

Apr 29, 2014
Gerald Bernard /

The Louisiana school voucher system, called the Louisiana Scholarship Program, is growing — | The Times-Picayune reports about 12,000 students applied to use vouchers next school year.

Mallory Falk

The Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools recently held its 8th Annual Charter School Teacher Fair. Hundreds of teachers from around the Gulf Coast came to interview for teaching positions.

Stuart Seeger / Flickr

The House supported a rewrite of Louisiana's career-track diploma law, to match a new policy of the state education board that will require public high school students who aren't college-bound to get job skills certifications to get a diploma.

The bill (House Bill 944) by Rep. Jim Fannin, R-Jonesboro, was sent to the Senate with a 94-0 vote Thursday.

The redesign, pushed by Superintendent of Education John White, emphasizes skills training for students who don't intend to go to a four-year university. Fannin said he hoped to keep more students in school with the changes.

Karen Gadbois / Flickr

For decades, New Orleans’ largest bilingual community has been Vietnamese-American. Now, since Katrina, the number of Spanish-speaking families has been growing rapidly.

Reporter Katy Reckdahl has been looking at services for both of those growing communities in New Orleans’ public schools. She found the charter system and One App programs can make language services more complicated.

Eve Abrams

When Logan Crowe became Principal of Andrew H. Wilson Charter School three years ago, the school had fewer than 10 non-English-speaking students.

Crowe actively recruited native Spanish speakers from New Orleans' swelling Latino population, and this year Wilson has 61 English as a Second Language students enrolled... but no funds to hire a full time ESL teacher.

Sister Juanita Wood, a bilingual nun near retirement, volunteered for the task and is paid a part-time stipend.


A new documentary called The Whole Gritty City zeroes in on New Orleans’ youngest musicians, many of whom haven’t yet lost all of their baby teeth. The film follows three school marching bands as they prepare to perform during Mardi Gras.

In this commentary, education writer Sarah Carr argues that The Whole Gritty City offers us a different kind of look at New Orleans schoolchildren.