PLAQUEMINE — Some Iberville Parish School Board members are blaming lackluster LEAP and iLEAP scores on excessive teacher absences, understaffed schools and a teacher incentive program called TAP.
Brandie Blanchard, the district’s personnel coordinator, presented the School Board with the 2011-12 LEAP percent proficient data last week. LEAP scores were released by the Louisiana Department of Education on May 23.
The Louisiana Educational Assessment Program is a high-stakes test given in fourth grade and eighth grade. iLEAP is not high stakes; it is given in third, fifth, sixth and seventh grades.
Overall, Blanchard said, the district did not experience a “substantial” drop in LEAP and iLEAP scores. But students’ overall test scores didn’t increase either, she said.
“Typically, when you look at test scores, if a district rose the year prior, you’ll see a dip the following year,” Blanchard said during last week’s meeting.
The district saw LEAP scores rise 5.2 percent in the 2010-11 school year, she said.
Blanchard said Iberville is still ranked sixth in the gains percent proficient students have made since 2007; however, that news did little to ease the disappointment of several board members.
Board members Dorothy Sansoni and Brian Willis each cited personnel deficiencies and several teacher absences at East Iberville School due to incentive-based teacher training as reasons for eighth-graders’ low test scores in English Language Arts, math and science.
“Everyone is running around here saying TAP is good,” Willis said during last week’s meeting. “But when you get people one-on-one, teachers in the system say they hate it. They think it’s wrong. If teachers are not there, the kids aren’t going to get it.”
Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne said Monday he agreed with some of the board’s views about TAP, but added once teachers get acclimated to the new system, he doubted it could be blamed for failing scores.
“During the first six months, we didn’t focus on data or formative assessments because we were introducing a whole new evaluating system,” he said. “I think TAP will serve us well.”
As for the excessive teacher absences, Cancienne said he intends to invite a lawyer to his upcoming retreat with the district’s principals and present a plan that will hold teachers, and other employees, more accountable when it comes to attendance.