It wasn’t a comfortable conversation, as Lake Charles Rep. Brett Geymann — a Common Core opponent — grilled Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White in the House Appropriations committee meeting Tuesday. At issue were plans to purchase new batteries of state standardized tests.

Alberto G. / Flickr

A few years ago, a new phrase became all the rage in education reform: Data driven. Students take benchmark and standardized tests throughout the year, and the tests generate lots of data. But how do teachers turn those data points into lesson plans?

Louisiana's Standardized Test Results Are In

May 27, 2014

The state Department of Education announced LEAP and iLEAP test results for third through eighth graders on Tuesday. And, even though the tests have gotten tougher, overall performance remains the same.

More than 60 percent of New Orleans students scored “basic” or above on the state’s LEAP and iLEAP tests, which is considered average proficiency. That’s the same as they scored last year.

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.

Behind The Test: Using Test Scores To Grade Teachers

May 13, 2014
Josh Davis / Flickr

Louisiana’s schools have a lot riding on student performance on standardized tests, and the stakes can be even higher for educators.

Louisiana is one of over 20 states around the country that ties teacher evaluations to student performance. Teachers can receive huge financial bonuses if their students do well, and they can lose their jobs if they don't.

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.

Teachers have taken a by any means necessary approach to closing the achievement gap even at the expense of student learning. Georgia’s Fulton County District Court indicted 35 educators, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, for a cheating scheme that ultimately produced the wrong kind of results. Dozens of Atlanta public schools teachers, leaders and other personnel are turning themselves in to authorities.

However, are teachers completely at fault? An accountability system predicated on achievement test growth may be a co-conspirator.

The state agency that runs most New Orleans public schools is reporting a small improvement in scores for students taking the ACT college entrance exam.

The average composite score on the ACT for students in the Recovery School District's New Orleans schools rose four-tenths of a point from 16.4 to 16.8 from 2011 to 2012.

Statewide, the average composite score was 20.3, up from 20.2.

While the state score is higher, the Recovery District notes that the increase was larger for the New Orleans schools.