Record percentage of 8th graders advance to high school

Fewer teachers needed for summer school due to success

Michelle Stuckey
June 02, 2011 at 3:06 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Record percentage of 8th graders advance to high school
With the end of another school year comes the state testing results for St. Charles public schools, and on the whole, parish schools did better on iLEAP, LEAP and GEE tests across the board with a record number of eighth graders advancing to high school.

School officials say they are proud of the students and faculty for making strides to improve the schools’ scores.

“We are extremely pleased, especially for our 4th and 8th graders,” said Rachel Allemand, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the district. “The percent of students passing those tests went up dramatically.

“This year has stood out as a year of tremendous growth.”

Allemand said that 89 percent of 4th grade students passed the LEAP and will advance to 5th grade, and 84 percent of 8th graders will advance to 9th grade. Last year, 82 percent of 4th graders advanced and 83 percent of 8th graders advanced.

“As a result of that, we’re hiring five fewer teachers for summer school,” Allemand said, noting a drop in the number of students who will be required to attend summer school. Allemand said that last year was the highest 8th grade passing rate the parish had ever seen, so this year’s increase makes it the all-time highest passing rate.

St. Rose, Lakewood and R.J. Vial elementaries led in the 4th grade LEAP test. St. Rose had the highest number of students scoring at basic and above in English. R.J. Vial had the most scoring basic or above in science. And Lakewood had the most students scoring basic and above in both math and social studies.

For 8th grade, Hurst and J.B. Martin middle schools led the parish. Hurst had the most students scoring at basic or above in English and math, while J.B. Martin had the highest in both science and social studies.

Felicia Gomez, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools and Quality Assurance, said that while some schools made higher scores than others, lower-scoring schools still made significant improvements this year. For example, she said that Luling Elementary’s passing rate went from 70 percent in 2010 to more than 80 percent this year, and R.K. Smith Middle School’s passing rate rose from 71 percent last year to 79 percent this year.

“We’re pretty proud of that,” Gomez said.

Gomez credits some of the success this year to the literary training program that has been implemented for the past five years for teachers and administrators. She also said that review processes that look at individual students and apply interventions at each school have helped.

At the high school level, HHS students outscored DHS students in every category of the GEE except for math, in which they tied. While both schools scored above the state average in every category, the parish’s overall scores on the GEE for English and math declined from their scores last year by 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Allemand said that it is important to keep in mind that state testing scores are not the only way that a school should be judged.

“That’s just one indicator of how schools are doing,” she said. “(State testing) doesn’t count those who took special education assessments or other factors.”

Allemand said that performance scores released later this year will give a more accurate view of how schools are performing because they take into account special education students and graduation rates.

“It’s hard to make comparisons because you don’t have all the factors to balance it out,” Allemand said.

Gomez said that it is also more important to look at the parish’s own progress than to compare local schools to those in other parts of the state.

“The best thing to do is not to compare ourselves with other districts, but to look at the improvement that is occurring within our own district,” Gomez said.

Gomez said that the school administration has already started meeting with principals and faculty to begin analyzing school improvement plans for next year, something that is done at the conclusion of each school year.

Gomez said that next year’s curriculum will include a bigger emphasis on writing for students and will incorporate science and math programs into schools in addition to the already-successful literary program.

View other articles written Michelle Stuckey

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