School rating and accountability policies exist to give parents, and the public, honest information about how well schools educate our kids. The ratings highlight which schools need improvement and intervention, and help parents determine whether another school might better serve their child’s needs. What’s valued in the accountability system, and what leads to better ratings, determine which kids’ learning needs get the most attention, which opportunities kids are given in school, and how far they’re pushed to succeed. The system would work if the policies aligned with what we know kids need to graduate prepared for the world that awaits them. But it doesn’t.

This can’t continue.

A BESE workgroup spent the past year studying ways to finally fix these problems and get the school rating and accountability system right. It was an in-depth process that consisted of several open meetings streamed online, lots of data about student achievement, consultation with experts, and extensive stakeholder engagement. Recommendations were presented to the full BESE board in September. However, in response to the typical establishment naysayers who are determined to preserve inflated ratings, BESE deferred action and pushed the decision to its Oct. 11 meeting.

It’s time to get this right. Credibility must be restored to school ratings. BESE must honor its commitment to transparency and high expectations, and enable Louisiana’s kids and our future workforce to thrive.

Erin Bendily is vice president for policy and strategy at the Pelican Institute