St. Charles Herald-Guide

LEAP --displaced students will be scored separately

M. Susanne Hinkle - March 15, 2006

Students get your #2 pencils ready, it’s LEAP test time again. As students prepare for the annual testing, state and parish officials have taken steps to accommodate a possible risk of displaced student scores affecting the parish’s overall testing results.

“The problem we are facing is that the new students in the parish have, in most cases, attended several different school systems in the area before settling in St. Charles Parish. This could contribute to a gap in their overall education,” said Rachel Allemand of St. Charles Parish Schools. She went on to say, “The state has decided to compile the scores separately. One set will be for the permanent students of St. Charles Parish and the other will be for displaced students. This will allow us to view the parish results without them being affected by displaced student scores.”

“There are definite gaps in the education of displaced students,” said Barbara Forshag, Assistant Principle and Testing Coordinator for Harry Hurst Middle School in Destrehan. “In some cases, these students were out of school for 6-8 weeks. They evacuated to another state and were out of school until they returned to Louisiana. We are keeping in mind that these students will not be prepared for the LEAP test. For instance, if they are from another state, they will not know much about Louisiana history.” She went on to say, “We have about 30 new students and that number continues to grow. Recently, we have seen an influx of students from other states that may be here with their parents who are working to rebuild the area.”

Students in the parish that are coming from Orleans Parish are a significant risk to the parish’s test results. They are entering St. Charles Parish Schools from the Orleans Parish School System, a school system that was in shambles long before Hurricane Katrina. And in some cases, these students were out of school for more than a month. “We are happy to have these students whatever their education may be,” said Forshag.

Students must pass the English and Math sections of the LEAP test to advance to the next grade level. When asked if the LEAP test is an affective knowledge measuring device, Forshag said “the test is good tool because it measures what our teachers are required to teach. If it should determine whether a student passes or fails the grade, I can not comment.”

There have been some changes to the LEAP test. For grades 3, 5, 6, 7, students will take the iLEAP test. This new version of the test incorporates some the Iowa Standardized Test. For grade 8 and 9, students will take the LEAP test. The English, Social Studies, Science sections and parts of the Math test are no longer timed. “This gives the student as much time they need to complete the written sections of the test. This should contribute to higher test results,” said Forshag.

With changes in testing procedures, students have a better chance at scoring well on the LEAP test. Students who are new additions to the parish’s schools will eventually gain momentum and be able to score higher in the future. The parish’s education officials are keeping in mind that these students have special needs and they say “we are up to the task.”

LEAP --displaced students will be scored separately