Students rewarded for improved test scores

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2002


LAPLACE – Fourth grade students at LaPlace Elementary who pass the LEAP test could go bowling, skating or even to a New Orleans Zephyrs game next spring. The only cost to students – two long school days per week until the exam.

From October until March, fourth grade students at LaPlace Elementary will attend an afternoon tutorial session from 3:05-5 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. The study sessions will give students an opportunity to work on English/language arts skills, intensive math and even some homework.

The extra time to prepare for the LEAP exam has been a part of LaPlace Elementary academics for about five years. School administrators said the LEAP preparation has been a big part of student success on the exam.

Last year, about 99 percent of the fourth grade class at LaPlace Elementary passed the English/language arts portion of the exam. About 94 percent passed the math portion of the exam. If attendance at the after school program remains high, administrators believe this year’s fourth grade students will also perform well.

LaPlace Elementary kicked off its After-School LEAP Preparation Program on Tuesday. The theme of this year’s five month study program is “Hit a Home Run on LEAP.” Captain Michael Tregre, St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, and athlete Mark Allen, New Orleans Zephyrs, spoke to students at the event about the importance of scoring well on the LEAP exam.

“You guys are being challenged,” Tregre told fourth grade classes. “Someone is trying to put you to a test. That group is the class that took the test last year. You are the class that is going to do even better than the class last year.”

But scoring well on the LEAP exam is about more than just competing for record scores, Tregre said. Scoring well on LEAP, graduating from high school and going to college help fulfill students’ dreams, keeping local youth out of trouble.

“Last time I checked, we had 259 people in our jail,” Tregre said. “Can you guys guess how many have high school diplomas? Out of 259 prisoners only 50 have high school diplomas. If you all get a high school diploma chances are you probably won’t go to jail.”

If that is not enough reason to study for the exam, then tickets to see the Zephyrs play at Zephyr Stadium next spring could be. Baseball star Mark Allen said good LEAP results could mean free baseball tickets for students at LaPlace Elementary.

Allen told students that even athletes need to have a good education. An injured athlete without a college degree has a hard time paying bills. An injured athlete without even a high school diploma has an even harder time when he or she can no longer play sports.

“The party animal life seems like a good deal for the first few years,” Allen said, “but then you are back at McDonald’s flipping burgers and asking ‘Can I take your order.'”

Having a college degree in addition to athletic talent gives injured or retired athletes the opportunity to take on another successful career, even after their athletic career is over.

The LEAP test is a good place for academic excellence to start, Allen said.

Both Tregre and Allen asked students to attend study sessions regularly and to do their very best on the exam.

The mentors, along with Superintendent Michael Coburn, received special “coaches” awards for their work with the after school program.