Science and math accademy expands in St. James

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2003

By LEONARD GRAY-Staff Reporter

VACHERIE – The upcoming school year will see a major change at the St. James Parish Science and Math Academy – they’re taking over the former St. James Junior High School.

Director Elvis Cavalier said response to establishment of the academy and skyrocketing test scores illustrate the good work done there to highlight and encourage talented students.

During the 2002-2003 school year, 120 students passed through its doors. This year, with the expansion from one wing to the entire school complex, there will be room for 288 students, working with eight teachers. The student-teacher ratio will go from last year’s 15-1 to 18-1, Cavalier added.

However, it doesn’t cause much concern to the director. Last year’s LEAP scores showed eighth-grade students had marks not only higher than the state average but also higher than lab schools, where admission is regulated by grade point averages, rather than lottery.

LEAP scores statewide averaged 3 percent scoring Advanced, 5 percent scoring Mastery, 39 percent scoring Basic, 23 percent scoring Approaching Basic and 30 percent scoring Unsatisfactory.

Lab school scores averaged 14 percent Advanced, 13 percent Mastery, 48 percent Basic, 16 percent Approaching Basic and 9 percent Unsatisfactory.

At the St. James Academy, scores averaged 5 percent Advanced, 14 percent Mastery, 58 percent Basic, 21 percent Approaching Basic and 2 percent Unsatisfactory.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would surpass the lab schools in the first year,” Cavalier commented.

Similarly, seventh-grade Iowa Test results had a 70.7 composite for students last year, compared to the statewide composite of 50 percentile.

(See ACADEMY, Page 9A)