Boquet: St. John Schools move closer to top-10 status

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We’ve just wrapped up another busy year in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools.

And even though we are already looking ahead to the 2015-16 school year, it’s also a good time to reflect on the past year.

The 2014-15 school year was one of continued success in local public schools.

Our District Performance Score, the state’s way of measuring school districts, rose for the sixth straight year. The rise to an 83.1 came even as the state instituted more rigorous testing standards for students aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This shows that not only is the curriculum written by our very own administrators, teacher leaders and others effective but also that our students are grasping these more difficult standards.

As we send the Class of 2015 out into the world, we are proud to say that we are doing more than ever to prepare them for life after they leave our hallways.

This year’s graduating class earned $6.5 million in scholarship offers.

An important component of many scholarship offers — ACT scores — is now a requirement for every graduating senior. Our belief is that this will encourage more students to continue their education beyond high school.

Despite increasing the number of students who took the ACT, our district average score still increased nearly a half a point to 18.1 for this year’s graduating class. Graduation rates continue to climb. The number of students who entered high school and then finished four years later beat the state average for the Class of 2014, the latest figures available. Advisory periods and a focus on college and career readiness through career pathways, areas of concentration and advanced placement courses are just some of the initiatives that have been put in place to keep our students on track toward graduation.

Our school district ranked third in the state in one-year improvement among schools showing at least three consecutive years of growth and West St. John High School boasted an impressive nearly 95 percent cohort graduation rate.

This is just one of the factors that lead to the school gaining national recognition by Newsweek magazine this school year as one of the top 50 high schools in the nation at closing the achievement gap and preparing its students for college.

The district as a whole is committed to serving every student, and we are working to make sure no student gets left behind. This year we celebrated the first graduates of our Connections program, an event four years in the making. Connections is a process available to eligible overage students in their 8th-grade year that allows them to earn middle school and high school credits simultaneously to help them graduate in three years instead of four. Most of this year’s Connections graduates are headed to two- and four-year colleges.

We’ve also expanded our summer school program to include students who are behind on coursework — not just those who performed poorly on standardized tests — get extra instruction to help them better understand the material and advance to the next grade level.

All this goes to show that good things are happening in your public schools, and we’re one year closer to our goal of becoming a top 10 school district in the next five years!

Jennifer Boquet is the communications specialist for St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools. Email her at