Public school test scores rank 5th in state

St. Charles Parish Public Schools ranked fifth in Louisiana for the number of younger students scoring in English, math and science on the spring LEAP test results.

Although the system’s overall performance is down from last year’s ranking of third, it remains among the state’s highest performers with an average of 45 percent of students in grade three through eight scoring mastery and above on the tests.

Highest performing districts include Ascension and Plaquemines parishes, both at 48 percent; the Central Community School District, 47, and West Feliciana Parish, 45.

Statewide, the parish school district also substantially exceeds this year’s passing average of 33 percent.

“The system scores are still high,” said Superintendent Felecia Gomez-Walker. “We know there are some areas for improvement and we have some plans to address that.”Gomez-Walker said the tests are intended to gauge student performance in these areas of study and help target areas for improvement.

Ajit “AJ” Pethe, assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, said the district showed its strongest results in math, ranking third in Louisiana.

Last year, Gomez-Walker attributed the district’s improving  math results to the adoption of the state-endorsed Eureka Math curriculum, which St. Charles Parish Schools began using four years ago. She praised teachers, as well as parents, for facilitating the transition into the curriculum.

“We’re seeing now the pay off of this series and higher standards,” she said, pointing to the jump in performance.Of the three subjects tested, Pethe said the test results pointed to the need for  improvement is science.

He said efforts are focusing on improving it in all grades. Gomez-Walker said a likely factor that influenced test results for students in fifth through eighth grades is they took the tests electronically (computer and/or Chromebook) for the first time. A state Department of Education requirement this year, she noted national studies have shown this change can lower results.

“National information indicates when students go from paper and pencil to computer-based assessments it does affect scores,” she said.

In a school-by school comparative in the parish (scores based on all three subjects combined), St. Rose Elementary was the only school with an improved ranking at 41 percent this year, up from last year’s 40 percent.

Elementary schools performance showed slight declines in combined scores include Ethel Schoeffner at 48 percent,  Lakewood Elementary, 51 percent; Luling Elementary, 32 percent, and Norco Elementary at 59 percent.

The parish’s middle schools also showed slight decline from last year’s test results: R.K. Smith at 31 percent; J.B. Martin, 47 percent; Albert Cammon, 33 percent, and Harry M. Hurst, 49 percent.

By subject and grade, the district showed gains and performance that exceeded statewide totals.

St. Charles Parish students made consistent gains in math, averaging 72 percent to 86 percent passing the test. The state’s highest passing rate in this subject is 70 percent.

By 2025, schools and districts must average ‘mastery’ performance to earn an ‘A’ rating from the state Education Department.

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