St. Charles Parish Public Schools got a “B” in this year’s Louisiana Department of Education’s (LDOE) performance rating, but Superintendent Ken Oertling calls the rating system just one of many indicators on performance.
“The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has designed a rating system that is complex and assigns multiple letter grades and scores to districts and schools,” Oertling said. “Stakeholders should be reminded that the SPS [ranking] is just one indicator of the school system’s overall effectiveness.”
St. Charles Parish schools remained among Louisiana’s top 20 systems, holding its 15th place ranking for the second year consecutively with an overall score of 85.6, up from last year’s 84.9. The system fell from an “A” in 2017, as did many school systems when the LDOE toughened standards.
Statewide, nine school districts kept their “A” grade, with Zachary Community School District again holding its No. 1 ranking.
No parish schools received an “A” this year.
Two of them dropped a grade with Norco Elementary falling from an “A” to a “B” and R.K. Smith Middle falling from a “B” to a “C.”
All the rest of the parish’s schools maintained their grade from the previous year: Allemands Elementary, Ethel Schoeffner Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, Mimosa Park Elementary, New Sarpy Elementary, R. J. Vial Elementary and St. Rose Elementary all received a “B.” Luling Elementary stayed at a “C.”
In the middle schools, Albert Cammon, Harry M. Hurst and J.B. Martin all received a “B.”
Destrehan and Hahnville high schools also received a “B” as they did the previous year.
According to Oertling, “Our Triple A School System continues to achieve high levels of success in Academics, Athletics and the Arts. Each school analyzes data and information provided by the state in addition to using district measures to determine success and opportunities for improvement.”
Oertling pointed to its own 2019 Quality Profile that outlines the system’s standards, opportunities, support for struggling students, transparency and credibility.
He added, “Our success can be attributed to the leadership of the School Board, dedicated educators and committed support staff that work for the success of every student. St. Charles Parish Public Schools is supported by parents, families, business and industry, and community members who value education and collaborate to create and sustain a Triple A School System focused on Academics, Athletics and the Arts.
The LDOE releases performance scores yearly, ranking schools and school districts by grade and score. Schools are graded on a 0 to 150-point scale and receive letter grades of “A” through “F.”
LDOE says Louisiana is redefining what it means to be an “A” school.
“By 2025, an ‘A’ school in Louisiana is one where the average student has fully mastered content, is ready for the next level of study, and has access to the same opportunities as his or her peers across the country,” according to LDOE. “As the state works toward that goal, it is gradually raising the bar for what it takes to earn the highest grade.”
The changes are required under the U.S. Department of Education’s “Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 (previously called the No Child Left Behind Act) aimed at equaling opportunity for all students.
Under ESSA, persistently struggling schools are identified. School improvement dollars are awarded to systems with “strong evidence-based plans” to improve them, according to the LDOE. Beginning last year, schools struggling with specific groups of students or chronic discipline issues are required to submit this plan.
LDOE interventions include additional resources and support for early childhood programs, as well as school redesign grants for struggling schools, additional funding for academic planning such as “Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy” subgrants and direct student services to increase access to college and career coursework and opportunities.