7 of 10 St. James schools score below average

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 6, 1999

CHRISTINE HARVEY / L’Observateur / October 6, 1999

ST. JAMES – Seven of the 10 St. James Parish public elementary and juniorhigh schools scored academically below average for the 1998-99 school year In a new statewide school and district accountability system.

Romeville Elementary had the distinction of being St. James’ lowestscoring school, followed in order, starting with the next lowest, by St.

James Junior High, Fifth Ward Elementary, Lutcher Elementary, Lutcher Junior High, Sixth Ward Elementary and Gramercy Elementary.

The parish’s other three schools were rated academically above average, with Paulina Elementary receiving the highest score, followed by Vacherie Primary and Vacherie Elementary.

No St. James Parish schools fell into the lowest category of academicallyunacceptable, a fact not surprising to the school superintendent.

“We felt from our calculations that no schools would (rank as unacceptable),” said P. Edward Cancienne, the former Assumption Parishschool superintendent who moved into the same position in St. JamesParish in July.

Two of the schools in St. James Parish – Paulina Elementary and VacherieElementary – received higher scores than any Assumption Parish schools did last year, and one Assumption school, the Assumption Alternative School, was rated as academically unacceptable.

Public schools with students in kindergarten through eighth grades received report cards from the Louisiana Department of Education containing a school performance score (SPS).

The SPS combines the scores students earned on the LEAP-21 and Iowa Tests, with attendance also figuring into each school’s final score, which can range anywhere between zero and 150 and above.

The LEAP-21 test, which is given to students in fourth and eighth grades and consists of math and English language arts sections, comprises 60 percent of a school’s overall score.

The Iowa tests count for 30 percent of the score and test children in grades three, five, six and seven. School attendance is only 10 percent ofthe score’s makeup and is measured by the percent of students in school every day, all year.

In the entire state, 85.9 percent of schools fell into the academicallybelow and above average categories, though St. James schools did havemore below average schools than the state average.

Fifty-seven schools around the state, or 4.8 percent, received scoresplacing them in the lowest SPS tier – academically unacceptable school.

And only one public school in Louisiana achieved the state’s highest rating – school of academic excellence. Fourteen schools were schools ofacademic distinction, and 95 were schools of academic achievement.

Each school is expected to incrementally improve its score by 2001, eventually reaching the goal of being a school of academic achievement by the year 2009.

The state has a 20-year goal to see every public school as a school of academic excellence.

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