Thirty-five schools in the greater Baton Rouge area failed to meet the tougher minimum academic standards for Louisiana and have consequently earned F grades.
A year ago, if those standards were in effect, 54 schools would have earned F grades.
A total of 15 greater Baton Rouge area schools managed to improve enough over the past year to avoid an F.
When the first letter grades came out last year, a Louisiana public school needed a school performance score of less than 65 to earn an F.
This year, to escape an F, a public school needed a school score of at least 75 out of a possible 200. The scores are primarily based on standardized test scores as well as attendance, graduation rates and other factors.
The Louisiana Department of Education quietly began to release this preliminary school performance score to schools in the state it thinks will earn an F. The state plans to release final scores for all schools in October, including those earnings A, B, C or D.
Nine of the schools avoiding Fs are operated by the East Baton Rouge Parish school system: Highland, LaBelle Aire, Polk, Progress, Scotlandville and University Terrace elementaries, and Broadmoor, Northeast and Tara high schools.
Overall, East Baton Rouge Parish went from having 29 to 20 F-ranked schools, still by far the most in the area. Four of its 20 F schools are alternative schools that cater to students with disciplinary or instructional problems.
“I’m not saying some of these schools can’t do better, but every indicator we’ve seen this year has seen good growth,” said Lizabeth Frischhertz, chief accountability officer for the school system.
Two East Baton Rouge Parish schools made the F list for the first time, the only schools in the area to do so.
Claiborne Elementary School slipped back after past improvement. It’s a school of almost 800 students. Its capacity more than doubled last fall after the school was rebuilt. It took in most of the students from nearby Brookstown Elementary, which closed.
The old Brookstown campus became home for the other new F school in Baton Rouge, the Career Academy. This career-oriented charter school, spearheaded by the nonprofit Louisiana Resource Center for Educators, finished its first year with a school performance score of 52.6. It had only 176 students last year in grades nine and 10, and is growing a grade level at a time.
Another Baton Rouge school that improved out of F status is a small high school, Madison Preparatory Academy, that is a spinoff of the more established Community School for Apprenticeship Learning.
Two Iberville Parish schools in danger of earning Fs, Plaquemine and White Castle high schools, also escaped the undesirable label.
Baker managed to get two of its five schools above the F threshold, Park Ridge Elementary and Baker High.
One of the Ascension Parish schools in trouble, Lowery Intermediate, also made the leap out of potential F status.
The state-run Recovery School District has calculated school performance scores for only three of the nine schools it runs or oversees in the greater Baton Rouge area and all three earned Fs this year: Capitol High, Kenilworth Science and Technology Charter and St. Helena Central Middle schools.
Kenilworth, a charter school, did the best of the three with a score of 71.9, improving substantially over its performance a year ago, but failing to lose its F label.
Capitol High and St. Helena Middle were closed and reopened in summer 2011 and did not get scores for that year. Both schools are being run by RSD instead of a private management group.
The six RSD schools in the Baton Rouge area that the state is not releasing school performance scores for this year were similarly closed and reopened. They will be run by RSD this fall as well. All have been low performing schools for years.
The schools are Dalton and Lanier elementary schools, Crestworth, Glen Oaks and Prescott middle schools, and Pointe Coupee Central High School.
Istrouma High in Baton Rouge, a F school, was taken over by the state this summer and no score was released for it. Its takeover also prompted the East Baton Rouge school system to close another F school, EBR Lab Academy, that occupied space on the Istrouma campus.