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State shares school report cards

Eight of 13 schools in Washington Parish showed improvement over last year in the 2013-2014 Louisiana Department of Education’s annual Performance Report Card.

Louisiana grades schools on a scale of A through F, Letter grades provide families and the public the information necessary to understand school performance. Graces are calculated based on student achievement, academic indicators and measures of career and college preparedness.

The City of Bogalusa School District, which includes Bogalusa High School, Byrd Avenue Primary and Central Elementary in the testing, all received letter grades of D, which was also the overall grade given to the district.

The district earned an overall score of 52.9, a more-than-12-point drop from last year.

Bogalusa High School maintained its D letter grade, but rose to 61.2 on the School Performance Score, up from 50.6. The high school and Central Elementary showed improved scores.

Central Elementary, which saw its second-graders move to Byrd Avenue Elementary at the beginning of this school year, this year moved up to a D rating from an F. Central had 48 percent of its students performing at or above grade level. Its SPS was 54.1.

“There are three things you have to have to achieve good test scores,” first-year Central Principal Eric Greely said. “First, you have to have good curriculum alignment with Common Core Standards. Two, you have to have good test models. When you’re giving tests, student need to be familiar with the type of test and format. And three, you have to have accountability. You have to ensure teachers have good professional development and are teaching the curriculum that’s assigned to the standards.”

Greely said much procedural work is needed with students before any classroom assignment can be given.

“Before teaching anything, we have to have a good policy and procedures in place to hold students accountable for their behavior,” Greely said. “When we do that, teaching and learning can be maximized.”

Greely said teachers are busy preparing students for the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers test, or PARCC, in math and English, aimed at students in third through eighth grades.

“It’s a more difficult test,” Greely said. “We’re in the process of giving our teachers extra professional development on how to teach PARCC.”

Greely said he felt the school is headed in the right direction.

“We’re not pleased with our report card,” Greely said. “We’re comfortable in knowing we’re on the right track to improve on our score next year.”

Byrd maintained its D score with an SPS of 54.1. Its 48 percent of students performing at or above grade level was a decline from last year.

In the Washington Parish School District, Pine School was one of the highest performing. Pine scored a B for 2013-2014, up from a C last year. Some 66 percent of students performed at or above their grade level, which was an improvement. Its School Performance Score was 90.4. Pine gained nine points from last year.

“I’m just elated,” Pine Principal Jennifer Thomas said. “I have the best students, faculty and administration to work with. We’re really going to keep pushing hard for that A.”

The lowest B on the grading scale is 85.

“We need 9.6 points to get that A,” Thomas said. “Our kids have the want-to. We’ve got some really good kids and faculty at this school. We’re going to keep working as hard as we can, and we know we can achieve it.”

Franklinton Junior High also showed improvement. The school maintained its B grade, but had 71 percent of its students performing at or above grade levels. The school‘s SPS was 89.3

”I give all the credit to our teachers who engage the students,” Principal Tiffany Hughes-Smith said. “The teachers take the students where they are and take them to the next level. I’m very proud of our score and hope to keep growing. Our students want to do well when it comes to testing.”

Hughes-Smith also noted test improvement of students who receive free or reduced lunches. That group scored an 81 percent, compared to 67 percent last year.

Other parish schools that showed improved School Performance Scores from last year included Mt. Hermon, Franklinton Elementary, Franklinton Primary and Thomas Elementary. Varnado High School, Enon Elementary, Franklinton High School and Wesley Ray Elementary experienced declines.

Mt. Hermon maintained its C grade and had an 80.1 SPS. Sixty-five percent of Mt. Hermon students performed at or above grade level, an improvement over last year.

Franklinton High School dropped from a B to a C. The school had an SPS of 81.5 with 61 percent of it students performing at or above grade level. Although this percentage is actually a slight improvement over last year, more stringent assessment standards from the state meant an overall drop in the school’s letter grade.

Quite the opposite happened at Thomas Elementary, where 59 percent of students performed at or above grade level, a decline from last year. The school, however, saw an overall increase in its SPS, from 69.7 to 76.1, bringing its letter grade up to a C. This is because other factors, such as attendance, make up part of the overall score.

Enon Elementary maintained its B from a year ago. The school scored 89.2, but its 78 percent of student performing at or above grade level was a slight decline.

Franklinton Primary moved up a grade to a B. The school’s SPS was 86.3. Its 69 percent of students performing at or above grade level was an improvement.

Varnado High School kept its D rating. Varnado’s SPS was 61.5. Forty-four percent of its students performed at or above grade level, a decline.

Wesley Ray dropped a grade to a D. Its SPS was 63.6. The 55 percent of its students performing at or above grade level was a decline.

Overall, the Washington Parish School System received a letter grade of B, with a score of 87.5, up slightly more than one point from last year.

The statewide average was 89.2, or a B on the letter-grade scale.