St. John Focus on schools: Going in the right direction

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 14, 2002


Our public schools continue to be closely examined. As recently as last week, we received an accountability report card on each school district’s progress across the state. We have grown accustomed to getting school-by-school test scores and reviews, but this report took into account the entire district. It is the first time the state has broadened its scrutinizing scope to hold the entire district accountable for its students performances in the classroom.

The report card took into consideration the district’s responsibility index, which included four items – school improvement, LEAP 21 passing rates, summer school passing rates and scores, and the percentage of certified teachers in underachieving schools.

I am proud to report that St. John the Baptist Parish received a label of “very good” and scored a 116.1 on the weighted scale, ranking above the state’s average of 115.6.

In particular, the district was cited as “excellent” in the responsibility index areas of school improvement and the LEAP 21 passing rates. It received a “good” rating for summer school passing rates and scores.

The only “unsatisfactory” mark came in the category of the district’s percentage of certified teachers employed at underachieving schools. This is an area of concern that is being aggressively pursued to remedy.

Thanks to the taxpayers of St. John the Baptist Parish, we are now able to compete with neighboring parishes in pay and benefits, enabling us to recruit and retain good, certified teachers. We are also working through a state program to “fast track” some of our teachers toward state certification.

Moreover, we are working to promote greater parent-teacher involvement so our teachers receive the support they need to be better educators, and our children receive the support they need to be successful in the classroom and in life.

Our “very good” score is a great acknowledgment of the efforts of so many in the St. John the Baptist Parish School System, and we’re grateful for the positive assessment. But in the bigger picture, it’s simply a road sign that says “Going in the Right Direction,” as we continue to work toward our goal of making our public school district a better, more productive, more accomplished learning environment for our children.

Our ultimate goal is to receive the designation of an all-around “excellent” school district. We’ll continue to follow our road signs, repair and improve the necessary parts, and seek to earn the support of our community, and we might be there before you know it!

MICHAEL COBURN is superintendent of St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools.