Wednesday, August 3, 2011
By Heather Miller
Growth remains slow at best, nonexistent at worst, in Lafayette’s at-risk schools.
Preliminary school performance scores released by the state last week show slow-to-static improvement rates for poor-scoring schools in Lafayette Parish. Without drastic growth, three north Lafayette schools will reach academically unacceptable — read failing — status by next year.
Northside High, JW Faulk Elementary and Alice Boucher Elementary schools edged above the minimum 65 points needed in 2010-2011 to avoid the label of academically unacceptable. But with performance scores of 68.2, 67.1 and 67.3, respectively, the three north Lafayette, high-poverty schools could be shifting into the failing category by 2012 when the state’s minimum school performance score is raised to 75.
According to the state Department of Education, an SPS of 65 equates to roughly 61 percent of students performing below grade level. For elementary schools, performance scores are determined 90 percent by test scores and 10 percent by attendance rates. For high schools, the SPS relies 70 percent on test scores and 30 percent on the graduation index.
Based on The Independent’s review of SPS data from 2008-2011, meeting the new minimum standards by next year will be challenging, if not unattainable, for Lafayette’s at-risk students. Northside’s performance scores have dropped by 1 point since 2008, and J.W. Faulk has only increased its SPS by 2.5 points in three years. Northside and J.W. Faulk need seven and eight point gains, respectively, by 2012 to meet the new minimums. Alice Boucher has shown the most improvement of the three with a 10.6-point increase in its SPS since 2008. But Alice Boucher’s gains were notably slower (1.8 points) from 2010 to 2011 than they had been in previous years. And the elementary school must raise its overall score by eight points in 2012 to avoid state sanctions.
Statewide, 155 schools were placed on the “Academic Watch” list for earning scores of 65-74.9.
“While schools on the Academic Watch list do not currently face sanctions, the list provides schools with notice that they will fall into [academically unacceptable school] status if they do not raise their SPS above 75,” the state education department says.
Not included in the preliminary data is the SPS of N.P. Moss Middle School, which long held the title of lowest performing school in the parish before the school system closed its doors in May. DOE spokesman Barry Landry says Moss’ scores will be released in the fall along with all other schools that didn’t have to be notified of their low performance before the start of the new school year.
Low-scoring schools’ data are released early so they can offer school choices and supplemental programming during the new academic year, something Carencro High is now faced with thanks to the latest data. Despite a rigorous college-prep curriculum offered to some students through its Academy of Information Technology, the high school failed to make enough gains in reading for its black and disabled populations, two subgroups identified by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Because the high school didn’t reach its improvement goals in those subgroups for two consecutive years, Lafayette Parish School System spokeswoman Angie Simoneaux says students at Carencro High now have the option of transferring to Comeaux High or Acadiana High.
Superintendent of Schools Burnell Lemoine will not comment on the overall “ups and downs” of school performance in Lafayette Parish until scores are in for all schools in the district, Simoneaux says. Be it now or later, it’ll take a masterful PR strategy to put a positive spin on the state of north Lafayette schools.
The achievement gap between poor, minority school scores and the rest of the district has long plagued the local school system, and it’s been repeatedly noted in this newspaper and in the minds of concerned residents who want to see a 95 percent graduation rate parishwide. As we reported in The Ind’s May editorial, “Help Wanted,” Lafayette Parish had a 70.4 percent graduation rate in 2010. While roughly 78 percent of white students graduated, only slightly more than 60 percent of black students earned diplomas.
School reform supporters, specifically the 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette civic group, have calculated that if growth rates remain the same in Lafayette Parish, the school district won’t see graduation rates reach 95 percent for more than 30 years.
Meanwhile, the Lafayette Parish School Board continues to search for a new superintendent to replace Lemoine when he retires Dec. 31, the halfway mark of a school year in which performance scores face the highest standards ever implemented statewide.
Community feedback sessions on the superintendent search begin Aug. 18 at David Thibodaux Career and Technical High School. It’s the first of six public forums in which the public is encouraged to give its input on what it wants to see in the new top administrator of Lafayette Parish schools.
The continued refusal by LPSB President Hunter Beasley and attorney Dennis Blunt to release a draft copy of the investigation into Superintendent Pat Cooper has resulted in a lawsuit by The Daily Advertiser.
The New Orleans Saints' early season slide is the kind of scenario Sean Payton had in mind when the coach and his staff placed a premium on character during player evaluations.
Long before a man was diagnosed with the Ebola virus in neighboring Texas, Louisiana's health department was working on what to do in case someone with the disease showed up in the state.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Women sue over sperm mix-up; Romney on campaign trail; Ebola patient was released from hospital and more national and international news for Thursday, October 02, 2014.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, surprised few in the Hub City Wednesday afternoon when he made (semi) official what most of us have known for months: He is running to replace Joey Durel as city-parish president.
Louisiana's first black Republican state senator since Reconstruction — who was a Republican before he was a Democrat before he was a Republican again — is accusing Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of using the black community for votes and providing nothing in return.
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.