St. John LEAP scores show drastic upswings

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2005


Staff Reporter

RESERVE — LEAP scores have recently improved across the board for St. John the Baptist Parish’s public schools, but with that news, there are some schools showing they have some areas to be further worked on. However, there are other schools that have drastically improved compared to the prior year’s scores.

John L. Ory Communications Magnet School, the Glade School and Garyville/ Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School showed the best scores overall, with West St. John Elementary also showing marked improvement.

Ory Magnet had no failing students in the entire fourth grade, and saw only two failing grades in eighth grade math and English. Glade School experienced great increases, with those students receiving failing grades falling by 15 percent in both fourth and eighth grade math. Garyville Magnet also had a 15 percent improvement in fourth grade math, as well as increases across the board not only in LEAP, but also in Iowa tests, a national standardized test issued to grades 3, 5, 6, and 7.

According to Patricia Triche, principal of Garyville/ Mt. Airy Magnet, the schools success is the result of two things: bringing the importance of the test “down to the student level,” and the hard work of everyone involved.

Before testing, Triche said every student between grades three and eight were given a form termed a “personal progression sheet,” where the students recorded test scores and identified their strongest and weakest areas.

“It’s goal-setting, and the students made a pledge in order to improve on their own academic success.” Triche said. “Unless it drops down to the student level and they have a motivation and willingness to learn, we’re not going to get anywhere. ”

Triche said they also executed “big-time tutoring” before the test, finding times most ideal to certain students, from in-school tutoring to at-risk eighth graders to extra enrichment time to gifted students.

Triche said that accountability in schools is more important since the No Child Left Behind Act, and it is critical that everyone involved know what is at stake.

“Test scores are not a closed door, class by class item anymore,” Triche said, “It’s a school performance score, and what you make in your class affects the score of the entire school.”

Triche has been at Garyville/ Mt. Airy Magnet for four years, with two years standing as acting principal. At an emotional school board meeting held May 5, the school board voted to send Triche to the Glade School for the 2005-2006 school year, replacing Acting Principal Orlando Watkins. The Glade has been renamed Lake Ponchatrain Elementary, which will go into effect for the upcoming year as part of a transformation hoped to better the school.

However, in light of the improvement in scores at the Glade, Triche said she will keep some of her methods, as well as what is working over there, and she will keep rewarding the teachers and students in recognizing excellence.

“I think one of the reasons we did so well is because we allowed the teachers a lot of input and decision-making for the schools,” Triche said, “I’ll meet with the teachers at the Glade individually to see where they want to be, and then I will meet with them at the grade level to see what they have and what they do not have.”

Triche said that, parish-wide, the schools need to work together to continue on the path of improving test scores, like those involved in her school strive to work together.

“We focused on creating a climate that was conducive to a healthy atmosphere, and have them want to come to school,” Triche said, “We announce our school wide expectations every morning, and the teachers work smarter instead of harder.

“It’s not one person that makes a school successful. It’s pulling together as a team-the students, the teachers, the parents, everybody.”