Education | Agenda for Children

Children’s Education in Louisiana

Our brains are hardwired to learn. Research has shown that while we are still in utero our brains are already absorbing information about the world around us. Thus, we know that creating the conditions for a child’s success in the classroom begins before the child is even born. If we want our children to be successful it is incumbent on us to ensure that our policies and budgets are focused on supporting the healthy development of children from the prenatal period through early adulthood.

Louisiana has consistently ranked near the bottom of the nation in educational performance. In 2019, 74% of fourth-graders scored below proficient on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Reading test and 77% of eighth-graders scored below proficient on the NAEP math test. While these rates represent improvements since 2010, Louisiana was ranked 48th on both measures in 2019. Additionally, Louisiana struggles to retain a quality teaching workforce in both early care and education and K-12 education with 40% and 12% annual turnover rates respectively.

While we don’t yet have reliable data on how the pandemic affected educational outcomes in Louisiana, post-pandemic data from the Census’ PULSE survey showed that Louisiana children face a huge digital divide. In March 2021, 22% of Louisiana households with children enrolled in public or private school did not have both internet and a computer or digital device that were usually or always available for children for educational purposes-a proportion higher than any other state except Mississippi.

Louisiana’s early care and education efforts have been working to simultaneously increase the quality of child care while also expanding access to free and subsidized care. As a result, the number of children who benefit from a free or subsidized seat in a center or school rated as at least “Proficient” has increased from 68% in 2016 to 92% in 2019. Despite that progress, over 100,000 low-income children under the age of four in Louisiana still don’t have access to a publicly funded seat. State funding for early care and education was slashed at the start of the decade, and the Child Care Assistance Program serves less than half the number of children it served in 2010.

Affirmative Steps Louisiana Can Take to Improve Educational Outcomes for Children

Increase state funding for early childhood education seats and fully funding the LA B to 3 plan which would provide access to 90% of children in need.
Improve instructional quality by investing in teacher preparation, increasing resources for student support, and improving teacher retention by raising pay to the national average and indexing it to inflation.
Implement the Louisiana Early Literacy Commission’s recommendations.
Reduce the use of suspensions and expulsions and eliminating racial disparities in the use of suspensions and expulsions. Research shows that students who are suspended or expelled are much less likely to graduate from high school. In 2018-2019, more than twice as many Black students were suspended in Louisiana’s public schools as white students, despite white students making up a slightly larger percentage of the student population (44% versus 42%).
Stem summer learning loss by expanding access to summer learning opportunities.
Continue efforts to engage high school students by offering a range of opportunities to earn credentials while in high school (e.g. AP courses, industry certifications, and dual enrollment).

Related Publications

Data on Children’s Education in Louisiana

The KIDS COUNT Data Center has a wealth of data on children’s education at the state and parish levels. LEARN MORE

State Level Partners Working to Improve Children’s Education in Louisiana

48%
of three and four-year-olds in Louisiana aren’t enrolled in preschool
28%
of Louisiana 4th graders are chronically absent from school
14%
of Louisiana children ages 6-17 have repeated at least one grade
20%
of Louisiana high school students didn’t graduate on time in 2019
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The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2024 KIDS COUNT Data Book Ranks Louisiana 48th in Child Well-BeingLearn more
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