Our Views: Masking a big problem

A recent decision by the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board to move gifted and talented students to a struggling school to boost its test scores seems to us like a troubling exercise in accounting, not accountability.

Merrydale Elementary’s current school performance score of 71.2 equates to an F grade in the state’s education accountability system, making the school a likely candidate for state takeover.

In an attempt to avoid such a takeover, the School Board recently voted to move nearly 100 gifted and talented students from Glen Oaks Park Elementary to Merrydale. The gifted students, because of their high test scores, are expected to boost Merrydale’s overall school performance score to 77.5, high enough to avoid a state takeover.

Merrydale is struggling right now because it has a high number of students who have fallen far behind in academic achievement. Simply moving gifted and talented students to Merrydale doesn’t do much, as far as we can tell, to improve the circumstances of these struggling students.

But moving these gifted and talented students from Glen Oaks Park to Merrydale is a disruption for dozens of youngsters and their families. This isn’t the kind of maneuver that builds confidence among parents.

We frequently argue for public support for the East Baton Rouge Parish School system. Decisions like the plan to move gifted and talented students from Glen Oaks Park to Merrydale make it hard to build such support for the system.

Masking low test scores by shuttling high-achieving students into a failing school seems like denial, not leadership.