May 23, 2018

Interest and Opportunities Indicator to be Introduced in 2019-2020 School Year

BATON ROUGE, La. -- In an effort to develop a new tool to measure whether schools are providing students with access to a well-rounded education, the Louisiana Department of Education today invited state and national organizations that support arts education, physical education, foreign language, technology, and career education to share information about best practices for evaluation.

The Request for Information (RFI), now available on the Department's website, responds to a provision in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that tasks states with evaluating school quality and student success in their school accountability systems. Louisiana's plan proposes a metric for evaluating whether schools are exposing students to diverse areas of learning in which they can develop their skills and talents and leading them to a pathway of prosperity.

"A well-rounded education reaches beyond the core subjects," said State Superintendent John White. "This new index will help Louisiana achieve its vision of ensuring that all students have access to quality visual and performing arts, world languages, health and fitness, technology and engineering, and life skills and career preparation."

The RFI calls on organizations to demonstrate the types of models they could implement to achieve reliable and fair measurement across these enrichment areas. Organizations that weigh in will have the opportunity to partner with Louisiana to develop, promote, implement and scale measures of quality school enrichment offerings.

Rankings, reports, and self-reported data from Louisiana school systems, as reported in the state's ESSA plan, indicate many Louisiana students do not have access to a well-rounded education needed for a productive and healthy life after high school. To better support schools in their efforts to address gaps in students' access to enriching experiences, Louisiana developed the concept of an Interests and Opportunities Index, accounting for five percent of a school's performance score starting with the 2019-2020 school year. The Department commissioned a working group of educators to study the Interests and Opportunities Index soon after the policy was passed.

Louisiana is one of six states and the District of Columbia that proposed a measurement of enrichment experiences in their ESSA plans. While all are in various stages of development and implementation, there is a clear and growing national interest in elevating the role of enrichment opportunities in K-12 education through accountability measures.

"Louisiana is helping to lead the national conversation about how to develop a more comprehensive understanding of whether we are meeting critical needs for student success beyond traditional measures," said Carissa Moffat Miller, Executive Director of the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO). "Across the country, states are exploring new types of measures, focusing on key areas such as visual and performing arts, languages, health and fitness, and other life skills, and Louisiana's Interests and Opportunities indicator can serve as a useful model for others."

The deadline for information is June 29, 2018. The Department will review the responses, and tools that are valid and reliable will be prioritized for use in the state's accountability system.

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