St. Charles Herald-Guide

Grade A: SCP schools rank 6th in state

By Caleb Frey - March 7, 2007

District Performance Scores for Louisiana public schools were released Monday, with St. Charles Parish Schools ranked sixth out of 50 public school districts, a slight increase over last year's rankings.

According to the Department of Education, the DPS is a "roll up" of individual student scores on the LEAP tests, the iLEAP tests and the Graduation Exit Exams (GEE), as well as attendance and dropout rates.

Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul G. Pastorek warned against taking the DPS numbers at face value because many factors have changed in determining the current totals than the ones gathered the year prior to Hurricane Katrina.

"It's very easy to assume that the performance of our school districts across the state has declined, but the truth is we cannot judge school district's by comparing this year's scores to last year's," Pastorek said. "The iLEAP and the Iowa Tests use different grading scales, making comparisons to last year's DPS invalid.

Pastorek noted that the current DPS will now become the benchmark for future reference and schools should look to increase on the new numbers.

St. Charles scored an overall DPS of 99.2, compared to The Zachary Community School District that scored first in the state for the second year in a row with an overall DPS of 108.2. The state average was 85.3, down 2.1 points from last year.

St. Charles was ranked eighth overall last year with a total of 68 public school districts participating.

St. Charles was above the average mark for 8th grade Persistence Rates which measure the district's success in keeping 8th grade students from dropping out. The average for the state was 96.0. St. Charles scored 98.7 out of a possible 100, meaning for every 100 students enrolled, less than two dropped out.

While St. Charles numbers for reported dropouts were below the state average, Board of Elementary Vice President Leslie Jacobs said the statistics don't take into account the kids lost between 8th grade and high school and there is always room for improvement.

"This indicator highlights the need for Louisiana to do a better job making certain our 8th graders are not lost on their way to high schools," Jacobs said. "As a state, we need to do a much better job with our 8th grade persistence. Our goal is to cut our dropout rate in half."