St. John students slip on IOWA test

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Staff Reporter

BATON ROUGE — While students of Louisiana’s public schools generally performed better on the IOWA tests, the students of St. John the Baptist Parish did not fare as well, according to a report by the state department of education.

Though the school district recently saw LEAP 21/ GEE 21 scores that indicated a marked improvement in the fourth and eighth grades, the IOWA scores showed a drop in scores in all test-taking grades but one.

Sixth graders in St. John Parish pulled their average up by one point, whereas the other grades-third, fifth, seventh and ninth- dropped by a point or two.

According to the department of education, IOWA tests are standardized nationally and compared nationally with other students. The percentile ranks range from one through 99, with 50 being the national average.

In St. John Parish:

€ Third graders scored a 48 for 2005, down from a 50 in 2004.

€ Fifth graders had a score of 49, down from 51 last year.

€ Sixth graders went up one point, from 40 to 41.

€ Seventh graders fell from a 45 to a score of 44.

€ Ninth graders’ scores decreased two points, from a 42 to a 40.

On a state level, sixth, seventh and ninth grades gained a point, fifth graders increased their scores by two points and third graders stayed the same.

St. John Parish Schools Superintendent Michael Coburn said that though their

scores have slipped, he is confident that the drops will be able to come back up again.

“Right now, I want to look at the schools that maintained the scores from last year or went above,” Coburn said, “Because I know there are some.”

He also said that he believes the pressure of passing or failing the LEAP test is what led to the students doing better on the LEAP tests than the IOWA tests.

The LEAP, or Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, is a high stakes test used to evaluate if students may advance to the next grade. If students fail the test, they may be allowed to retake the test, but if they fail, they are held back.

Under the Louisiana Accountability System, scores from the IOWA tests, the LEAP 21/GEE 21 tests, and student attendance and dropout rates are used to calculate performance of schools districts.

The state department recently released reports showing a two point improvement in St. John Parish from the 2002-2003 school year to the 2003-2004 school year.

According to the state department, this is the last year the IOWA test will be used to calculate school performance scores.

“The national average of 50 is what we are shooting for and we strive to maintain that across the board,” Coburn said, “We’re going to have to make some strong turns to regroup, but we’ll come out fighting and swinging again.”