Data: Schools raise grades
DONALDSONVILLE — Ascension Parish public school officials said preliminary data show improvements at some of the district’s low-performing schools.
The district last year established its Turnaround Zone, targeting eight schools — G.W. Carver Primary, Donaldsonville Primary, Gonzales Primary, Pecan Grove Primary, Lowery Elementary, Lowery Intermediate, Gonzales Middle and Donaldsonville High — with school performance scores below 90.
Jennifer Tuttleton, the district’s director of school improvement, said that early findings indicate three of the eight schools could receive higher letter grades when the Louisiana Department of Education releases school performance scores in October, and six of the eight schools likely would see growth in their scores.
Superintendent Patricia Pujol, however, stressed that all of the data released at Tuesday’s School Board meeting was preliminary and “strictly speculative,” and that she didn’t feel comfortable speaking directly to any one school’s grades.
Pujol attributed the growth to a “laser focus on end-of-course exams” as well as constantly tracking benchmark goals throughout the school year.
Tuttleton singled out Donaldsonville High, Gonzales Middle and Pecan Grove Primary as schools expected to improve at least one letter grade. G.W. Carver Primary, Donaldsonville Primary and Lowery Intermediate also are expected to see improvement in their scores.
Donaldsonville High, which received a D grade the past three years and an F as recently as 2007-08, is expected to show “substantial” improvement, Pujol said. Tuttleton’s figures showed the school’s baseline score is expected to improve from 76.4 to 108.4, which would place it in the B category. However, Pujol said school officials aren’t certain of that right now.
Board member Jamie Bourgeois, of St. Amant, said that the quick progress made at Donaldsonville High can serve as a model for success for the other Turnaround Zone schools.
“If Donaldsonville High School can go from a D to a B ... maybe some of the other low-performing schools will see that and embrace it,” Bourgeois said.
Not all of the Turnaround Zone schools are expected to show a turnaround, however. Gonzales Primary and Lowery Elementary should show slight decreases in their school performance scores.
“I’m definitely pleased with the progress we made in one year,” Pujol said. “It’s not that every school grew, but where we didn’t grow we either made a leadership change or know why we didn’t grow. ... There’s no doubt our strategy is working. We just need to stay the course and make the changes in the schools that didn’t grow.”