St. Charles school district gets ‘A’ rating for first time

St. Charles Parish Public Schools has been recognized as one of the state’s elite school systems after earning an “A” performance grade rating for the first time.

St. Charles schools also moved up in the rankings to the sixth-best district in the state after being ranked eighth last year.

Superintendent Felicia Gomez-Walker said she is very pleased with the school district’s improvement.

“We are very excited about our schools’ performance as well as scores on the district level. When you look at school performance scores, this is the first year that all of our schools are either A or B schools,” she said.  

One school, Allemands Elementary, made the highest jump in the parish, going from a C school to an A school.

Five schools increased from a C to a B rating this year, including, R.K. Smith Middle School, Luling Elementary, Norco Elementary, Albert Cammon Middle School and St. Rose Elementary.

Five schools increased from a B to an A, including J.B. Martin Middle School, R.J. Vial Elementary, Harry M. Hurst Middle School, New Sarpy Elementary and Ethel Schoeffner. Tresa Webre, director of elementary schools, said the increases are largely due to the fact that many of the schools met performance goals.

“We had seven schools in our district that presented top gains with these scores and that means that they even exceeded or met their target. I think that shows we have a lot of schools that are really improving,” she said.

While letter grades for both Hahnville and Destrehan high schools both dropped from an A to B grade, officials said this is because schools were not eligible to receive bonus points due to the implementation of mandatory ACT tests last year.

Rachel Allemand, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the drop was not unexpected because the high schools did not have data from previous years to properly track student progression, which factors into final school grades.

“They did not have the data to know who would qualify for bonus points. As a result neither Hahnville nor Destrehan received bonus points because it is a new measure and it was the first year that they gave ACT tests to everyone,” she said.

Next year the data will be available to track how many students increase their ACT performance and that will be figured into the score.

The release of the performance scores comes as the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) unveiled new letter grades for schools.

LDOE officials have called the grading change a simplification. Under the old grading scale, a school that scored between 120 and 200 would be considered an A school, between 105 and 119.9 would be a B grade, between 90 and 104.9 would be a C and between 75 and 89.9 would be a D. Any score below 74.9 would be an F.

Under the new scale, anything over 100 up to a maximum of 150 is an A, between 85 and 99.9 is a B, between 70 and 84.9 is a C, between 50 and 69.9 is a D and 49.9 and below is an F.

Also under the new grading scale, attendance, which used to make up 10 percent of a school’s performance score, is no longer taken into account for elementary and middle schools. Their scores are based solely on student performance tests such as iLEAP and LEAP this year and the PARCC beginning next year.

The new scoring system marks the third time the school ratings have been changed in the past three years.

Gomez-Walker said despite often occurring assessment changes, the school district is still focused on providing the best student progression possible.  

“Our focus is very clear regardless of the formula or the changes in the formula,” she said.

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