Louisiana to launch Interactive online tool to help families find, evaluate schools, child care centers
BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education today announced the creation of the Louisiana School Finder, an interactive online tool designed to help families more easily locate and evaluate schools and child care centers across the state. The tool, which hosts detailed information about each site's offerings and academic performance, will be unveiled November 7 with the release of the annual school performance scores and the first-ever early childhood performance profiles.
"Louisiana students deserve a high-quality education, and families deserve a system that allows them to find a school or center that best fits their unique child's needs or to evaluate the learning environment of the school or center in which their child is enrolled," said State Superintendent John White. "The Louisiana School Finder makes that possible. We look forward to launching the tool next week and to continuing to collaborate with families, education and community leaders, and partners to ensure its success."
Among its many features, the Louisiana School Finder provides families with:
• school performance scores and early childhood performance ratings that show how well schools and centers are preparing students for the next grade-level
• listings of course offerings, clubs, enrichment and extracurricular activities
• a comparison tool and filters to allow users to customize their search and identify the schools and early childhood centers that are the right fit for their child
• basic information about schools and centers, such as their address, website, hours of operation, and principal or director's name.
The school profiles will include the overall performance scores and traditionally reported metrics like assessment results, graduation rates and college enrollment. In addition, for the first time, data regarding teacher workforce, student discipline, and student attendance will also be included. In subsequent years, the Louisiana School Finder will expand to provide information on student progress and include an interests and opportunities index indicating how schools fare in offering enriching activities to their students.
Early childhood performance profiles are also a new feature this year. The overall performance ratings are derived from an observation-based evaluation system and reported in four categories--Excellent, Proficient, Approaching Proficient and Unsatisfactory. In addition to the overall rating, the performance profiles provide a snapshot of each center's educator workforce, student-to-teacher ratios, and curriculum quality.
The upcoming launch of the Louisiana School Finder comes after more than a year of public discussion and planning. With the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, Louisiana seized the opportunity to collaborate with educators, parents, business and community leaders statewide to create and report on an improved education system that provides all students with equal access and opportunity to high-quality learning.
Part of that strategy was to create a user-friendly platform able to host a wide array of information on school and center quality, and present that data in a way that was both transparent and easy to understand.
The Louisiana School Finder achieves those goals and more, said Timothy Daly, Founding Partner of EdNavigator, a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization that led conversations about the need for such a tool. The organization is dedicated to helping families and students achieve educational success.
"With some of the sites out there, finding and comparing information about schools is very frustrating. You get the idea that they were built for system insiders, not parents," Daly said. "Louisiana has taken a big step forward by launching a school finder tool that was clearly built with parents in mind. It offers simple, useful information that will help more families understand how schools are doing and make the critical decisions that lead to their children's educational success."
But report cards are only as good as the conversations that go along with them, added Annie Morrison, the Department's Director of Family and Educator Communication. "In partnership with schools across the state, we are prepared to continue conversations with leaders, advocates and families about what these data mean."
To help schools and early childhood centers facilitate these conversations, the Department released a School Finder toolkit for school systems and principals containing a customizable parent night presentation, promotional flyer and animated videos to help educate families on how school performance scores and early childhood ratings are developed.
To access the Louisiana School Finder, visit www.louisianaschools.com starting November 7, 2017.
To access the information and resources on how to use the Louisiana School Finder, visit the "School and Center Performance" page on the Department's website and follow the Department on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.