St. Charles’ schools success discussed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2011



LAPLACE – Positives in student test scores and overall school performance in St. Charles Parish were among several topics addressed during a recent superintendent’s report at the St. Charles Parish school district’s Satellite Center in Luling.

School administrators, led by Superintendent Rodney Lafon, briefed parish business leaders on finances, above average test scores, dropout rates, community involvement and other topics during the hour-and-a-half morning meeting. Lafon said he was particularly proud of the high test score performance, which he said was the best in his 18 years as superintendent.

“We had more student growth in that area this year than ever before,” Lafon said. “It is a testament to the quality of teachers and the level of motivation coming from the students.”

Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum, said student performance on the fourth-grade LEAP test showed 94 percent of the students in the parish passed the English and math, while 97 percent of students passed in science and social studies. On the eighth grade LEAP test, 90 percent of the students passed in English and math and 92 percent passed science and social studies, which, according to Allemand, were the same as scores from last year.

Allemand said the district also showed high performance on graduate exit exams in English, math, science and social studies. She said students also performed well on end of course tests in algebra I, geometry and English II. The tests help dictate scholarships and course credit for college, Allemand said.

Lafon said the graduation rate in the parish for the 2009-10 school year was at 79.4 percent, but he added the percentage only includes those who finished high school in four years.

“What we want them to do is graduate,” Lafon said. “It should not matter if it is done in four, four-and-a-half or five years. The goal is graduation, and that is what we should look at.”

Lafon also said the parish has an annual dropout rate of about 3 percent. He said the district does a good job of placing students and recognizing those who are at risk of dropping out.

He said the district pays attention to those students who are better suited for trade schools and career preparation.

“I think we need to improve what is done at the state level as far as recognizing that a traditional four-year college degree is not for everyone and not necessary,” Lafon said. “Students who go on to technical colleges and trade schools can get an adequate amount of training that can get them a good quality job in this region.”

Lafon said about 640 students at St. Charles Parish high schools are dual enrolled in classes at area technical colleges. He said the high schools have career coordinators who ensure that students are on the correct career path.

Lafon also discussed some of the challenges facing the school system, including a continuous focus on student achievement, as well as improving school/community relations.

“We have a high level of involvement, but it could always be better,” Lafon said.