The results of standardized tests for the 2012-13 school year are back and St. Charles Parish students increased their overall scores once again.
The school district as a whole improved by 3 percentage points this year with 82 percent of students reaching basic or above. That was far higher than the statewide average of 69 percent.
LEAP test outcomes for the 4th and 8th grades that determine whether a student can go on to the next level saw only slight increases, but no decreases.
iLEAP scores given to grades 3, 5, 6 and 7, which have no bearing on whether a student advances to the next grade, saw increases in every grade level subject but one.
Parishwide, 4th graders increased their English scores by 1 percentage point this year with 89 percent of students scoring basic or above. The statewide average is 77 percent.
Math scores for 4th grade also saw an increase from 83 percent in 2012 to 86 percent in 2013, which was much higher than the 71 percent students scored statewide.
English scores for 4th graders at Norco Elementary and Lakewood Elementary saw the highest gains in the mid to high 90th percentile. Ethel Shoeffner also saw gains while R.J. Vial stayed the same.
Luling Elementary and St. Rose Elementary both saw decreases in English scores with Luling scoring only one point higher than the statewide average of 77 percent. In math testing, all but one school improved in the 4th grade. St. Rose Elementary saw a decrease from 78 percent in 2012 to 65 percent in 2013, which was below the statewide average of 71 percent.
In the 8th grade, students increased their English scores from 80 percent in 2012 to 82 percent this year while the statewide scores were only 69 percent. In math testing, parish 8th gradersí scores increased four points to 78 percent, whereas state scores lagged behind at 66 percent.
All but one 8th grade school saw increases in English scores. Albert Cammon Middle School saw a sharp decline from 89 percent in 2012 to 77 percent in 2013. Both J.B. Martin and Albert Cammon saw large increases in their math scores. Harry Hurst saw a slight decrease and R.K. Smith lost seven points off its 2012 score for a total of 59 percent, which is lower than the state average of 66 percent.
Passage rates for first time test takers were steady at 92 percent for 4th graders and 87 percent for 8th graders. Those who failed the test will have the chance to retake it after a summer school session. If the students fail the test a second time, they will be required to repeat the grade.
"That is the same as what it was at this time last year and last year was a significant increase over prior years," Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment said. "So with 92 percent and 87 percent we are sure that will actually increase because those children will be coming to summer school and retesting in June."
Overall, Allemand said she was pleased with the school systemís performance.
"The percent of students scoring basic or above increased in 18 categories, stayed the same in five categories and decreased in one category," she said. "LEAP passing rates in grades 4 and 8 matched the high percentages achieved by St. Charles Parish students in 2012."
Tresa Webre, director of elementary schools, said the school systemís continued success has hinged on the time given to the needs of individual children.
"Teachers have really stepped up to the plate and have really tried to meet the needs of the individual kids," she said. "Through data review and data team process we have really tried to build that capacity for teachers to really get to know all of their students individually."
Felicia Gomez, assistant superintendent of secondary schools and quality assurance, said system wide standards applied to teachers at all levels has greatly increased the school systemís ability to succeed on standardized testing.
"We operate as a school system, not a system of schools. Our schools have worked so hard as schools together really trying to put initiatives in place," she said.
LEAP and iLEAP testing to be discontinued
This year marks the second to last year that iLEAP and LEAP testing will be in place.
The state will instead begin using the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in the 2014-15 school year. PARCC testing is already in place in 22 other states.
This year the iLEAP and LEAP tests included a more rigorous writing portion to prepare students for the upcoming transition.
"The state actually changed the writing component on LEAP and iLEAP for 2013 as part of a way to prepare for that move. At a district level what we have done is we have administered a diagnostic assessment," Allemand said.
Allemand said the school district and state have already started the transition to the more difficult PARCC assessment.
"Under the PARCC assessment the writing test will be more where the students have to read texts and write a composition using evidence from that text to support their position in their composition," she said.
Gomez said the school district is up to the challenge of the PARCC assessment.
"This district has a history of taking the initiative to be prepared and doing the work that needs to be done within our district with our teachers in order for us to be prepared," she said.