School scores show growth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – Performance scores for school districts and individual schools improved markedly in the River Parishes under a new scoring system recently implemented by the Louisiana Department of Education.
Letter grades are assigned on a more simplified scale under the new system. Currently, scores at or above 100 earn an “A,” and scores below 50 earn an “F.” The system also includes two other important changes: schools no longer earn points for students who score below basic level, and schools that are making great progress with persistently low-performing students both on elementary/middle school state assessments and the ACT at the high school level receive rewards through a new “bonus” system.
Performance scores also utilize a new 150-point system, whereas the older system was based on a 200-point scale.
The old grading system scored elementary and middle schools based on a combination of percentages from test scores and attendance. Middle school scores were also calculated to consider drop-out rates. The new system grades heavily on tests for elementary schools. High school credits that are earned by the year’s end attribute to middle school scores under the new grading system.
High schools scores were formally determined using 70 percent test scores and 30 percent graduation rates. The new system uses equal quarters of ACT composite scores, end of course scores, graduation rates and quality of diplomas.
Even with a more streamlined grading system, schools reportedly improved their scores as a whole this year through record-setting student achievement.
The St. John the Baptist Parish School District maintained its C letter grade in the system switch. The current district performance score is 80.4. Several schools in the district raised their school performance scores between the two systems: John L. Ory Magnet School jumped from a “B” to an “A”; LaPlace Elementary School and West St. John High School both received a “B”; East St. John Elementary, Garyville/ Mt. Airy Magnet School and Lake Pontchartrain Elementary are currently rated “C”; Fifth Ward Elementary, West St. John Ele-mentary, Emily C. Watkins and St. John Alternative School scored a “D”.
East St. John High School is exempt from performance scores because of days missed during Hurricane Isaac.
Four St. James Par-ish schools earned a “B” letter grade: Lut-cher High School, Paulina Elementary, Vacherie Elementary and Sixth Ward Ele-mentary. Fifth Ward Elementary, St. James High School and Gramercy Elementary were scored with “C” grades. Only one school received a “D”, Lutcher Elementary. St. James Parish School District went from a “C” to a “B” this year.
St. Charles Parish Public Schools netted the most “A” grades, with six schools re-ceiving top scores: J.B. Martin Middle School, Allemands Elementary School, R.J. Vial Elementary School, Harry Hurst Middle School, New Sarpy Elementary School and Ethel Schoeffner Elementary School; the St. Charles Parish School District also scored an “A.” The rest of the district’s schools came away with a “B” grade: Lakewood Elementary School, Mimosa Park Elementary School, A.A. Songy Kindergarten Center, Norco Primary and Norco Elementary Schools, St. Rose Elementary School, Albert Cammon Middle School, Destrehan High School, Hahnville High School, Luling Elementary and R.K. Smith Middle School.