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Goal #1: Prioritize Student Success over Traditional Practices that Impede Performance in Public Schools

The Problem The statistics on the performance of Louisiana’s public education system need no explanation. Our state ranked 48th in the nation for K-12 achievement in 2011, and 230,000 (one-third) of our students are performing below grade level. Louisiana ranks dead last in the number of fourth graders who read at a proficient level. We still have the highest drop-out rate in the country, and our students’ “Chance for Success” is ranked 47th.

The Solution Although the high number of children in poverty in Louisiana—nearly one in four children, the highest in the country— certainly poses enormous challenges, there are school leaders and teachers achieving student success across the state despite the odds. We know what works, even here at home.

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The Blueprint for Action

  1. Reform teacher tenure laws in Louisiana.
  2. Empower superintendents and principals to make performance-based decisions, removed from politics.

Goal #2: Create a Single High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten System

The Problem In recent years, Louisiana has been nationally recognized for progress in early childhood education. The gains in enrollment and student achievement in the LA4 program, a statewide law for universal access to pre-kindergarten, and the implementation of a Quality Rating System for child care providers are just a few examples. Yet one out of three Louisiana four-year-olds is still not enrolled in pre-kindergarten, despite the fact that an effective preschool program is proven to better prepare students for schools with gains that last at least through third grade. It is the working class that is frequently left out, as the lowest-income children benefit from cost-free programs and the middle class can often afford preschool. Given the tremendous challenges Louisiana faces in student achievement in our K-12 classrooms, an early investment in high-quality pre-kindergarten should be an obvious priority.

The Solution We know that we can enhance a child’s lifetime chance for success by increasing access to exceptional early childhood education. Evaluations of LA4 show significant improvements on test scores, fewer referrals to costly special education programs, and a shrinking achievement gap. For every dollar invested in high-quality prekindergarten, experts predict a return of more than seven dollars with long-term benefits that include higher personal income levels and increased tax revenues.

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The Blueprint for Action

  1. Collapse the confusing array of state pre-kindergarten programs into a single system with high early learning standards and accountability measures.

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