Scores up but fall short of local LEAP ambitions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 17, 2006

School officials happy, yet sad


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – While the state average LEAP scores icreased overall, both St. John and St. James school districts feel there is much work to be done to meet their testing goals.

The Louisiana Department of Education released the state’s LEAP and Graduation Exit Exam scores Friday.

&#8220With everything taken into consideration we’re happy about the scores, but we’re sad at the same time,” said St. John School System Superintendent Michael Coburn of his districts mixed success. &#8220We had some schools improve quite a bit and we need to get all of our schools to follow their lead.”

Coburn said that John L. Ory Elementary, Fifth Ward Elementary, Leon Godchaux and East St. John High showed the most sign of overall improvement noting that Fifth Ward and Godchaux had made &#8220considerable gains.”

LaPlace Elementary, Lake Pontchartrain Elementary, Garyville/Mt. Airy Magnet and West St. John High did not improve scores from last year’s testing and even decreased in some areas.

St. James School Board Administrative Director Mary Edwards is looking very closely into why fourth graders in her district are not showing the improvement she thought they would.

&#8220What we’re disappointed in is that the fourth graders have fallen two percent behind the state average,” Edwards said. She’s not pointing fingers in any particular direction though; she’s just trying to figure out with her staff how to improve for next year.

&#8220The sad thing about education is you can climb and climb but when you finally hit a plateau people start to go crazy and want to know what’s been done wrong,” Edwards said. &#8220There isn’t necessarily anything done wrong we just need to seek out better ways of doing things.”

Edwards says that teachers from St. James are already getting together in groups for school improvement plans to figure out what methods are working and what may need improvement.

Students take the LEAP in the fourth and eighth grades and the GEE in the tenth and eleventh grades. LEAP is used to determine whether students advance to the fifth and ninth grades while the GEE determines whether students are eligible to graduate from high school.

Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cecil J. Picard was pleased with the overall job of Louisiana’s schools as they tested in what he called &#8220a recalibration year for Louisiana.”

&#8220Given the disruption caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, these scores are excellent,” Picard said. &#8220My message to our students, parents, teachers and educational leaders is keep up the good work and don’t give up. We will recover, we will rebuild and we will do it through education.”

There are five achievement levels for LEAP and GEE students can attain: unsatisfactory, approaching basic, basic, mastery or advanced. The state’s goal is for all students to achieve basic level or above by 2014.

St. Charles Parish had 82 percent of fourth-graders pass the LEAP. St. James parish had 70 percent pass while St. John had 66 percent.

Eighth-graders in St. Charles had a 77 percent passing rate with St. John passing 60 percent of their students.

Individual school scores were not released to the public but parish scores can be obtained through the Department of education website at