School scores released
LAFAYETTE — Six of the eight Acadiana area school districts scored a letter grade of B under the state’s new accountability formula, while the other two rated grades of C and D, based on district performance scores released by the Louisiana Department of Education on Thursday.
The accountability system changed from a 200-point grading scale to a 150-point scale, moving it closer to the classroom grading scale and bringing it into closer alignment with higher academic standards designed to prepare students for success after high school.
Iberia Parish School Superintendent Dale Henderson said the new grading system includes more variables to better reflect how students are actually performing.
Previously, elementary schools’ scores reflected only 90 percent of student test performance and 10 percent on student attendance.
Now,100 percent of elementary school scores are based on student test performance.
Three Iberia Parish elementary schools: Dodson, North Lewis Street and Delcambre are A-rated schools, Henderson said.
And six schools in the parish met or exceeded their growth targets, earning them a label from the state as “top gains” schools, he said.
He said the district wants to “pinpoint those things that are strengths in our district and look at things we can improve.”
The state released district and school letter grades under the new and old formula to provide an accurate representation of school performance under the changing accountability system, state Superintendent John White said in a conference call Thursday.
Iberia Parish, Acadia and St. Martin all received a B letter grade under the new system, but would have received a C under the old formula.
Lafayette, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes all received a B letter grade under both formulas. Evangeline Parish also received a C under both systems.
Based on the new formula, St. Landry Parish is now rated the lowest performing district in Acadiana with a letter grade of D, but under the previous accountability system, it would have received a C.
Twelve Lafayette Parish schools met or exceeded growth targets to earn “top gains” labels, said Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Pat Cooper.
Another boon for the district — Alice Boucher Elementary shook off its academically unacceptable label and letter grade of an F that the state gave it in August based on preliminary performance scores.
“I’m really proud of Alice Boucher,” Cooper said.
He attributed the gain to the work of faculty, parents and children and to changes under the system’s turnaround plan that are proving to be effective.
Using the old formula, both Boucher Elementary and Acadian Middle would have received an F rating. J.W. Faulk Elementary remains on the academically unacceptable list and maintained its F label.
At the middle school level, rating scores previously were based 90 percent on tests, 5 percent on attendance; and 5 percent on the dropout rate.
Now, 95 percent of the middle school scores are based on student test performance and 5 percent is based on the high school credits earned by the end of the former middle school student’s freshman year.
Overall, the district showed improvement — moving up in the state rankings from 21 out of 74 districts to 19, Cooper said.
“The tests last year were more rigorous, more conditions put on the schools and our folks came through like champs,” Cooper said. “ We’ve got 14 schools that improved by a letter grade — that’s about a third of all of our schools.”
The new accountability system bumped some schools up a letter grade, while a few dropped a grade based on the new system even though they charted growth, creating a frustrating predicament for some principals, St. Martin Parish School Superintendent Lottie Beebe said.
Under the previous formula, 70 percent of a high school’s performance score was based on student test scores and 30 percent was based on the school’s graduation rate.
Now, high school performance scores are based 25 percent on ACT composite scores; 25 percent on end-of-course tests; 25 percent on the graduation rate; and 25 percent on the quality of the diploma earned by students.
“One of our high schools dipped a letter grade and we attribute that drop to the low performance on the ACT,” Beebe said.
The school —Cecilia High charted nearly 12 points of growth and would have rated a B based on scores released using the old formula. Based on the new formula it rates as a C, said Al Blanchard, St. Martin Parish school director of operations and personnel.
Last year, he was the district’s elementary supervisor and test coordinator.
“How can you start out as a B school and have 12 points of growth and get a C?” Blanchard said.