APSB 'school report card' improves to a "C"

LaSAS improves to "A" rating

It’s called a school district’s “school report card” -- a measure of how well the district’s schools are teaching their students.
School districts around the state got their report card this past Thursday, and Avoyelles pulled its “D” up to a “C,” improving its score by 12.1 points, from 61.5 to 73.6.
In addition to an overall improvement, the district also has its first “A” school, LaSAS, which was a “B” last year.
On the other end of the grading scale, the parish still has two elementary schools with an “F” rating. Marksville Elementary was an “F” last year and also this year. Bunkie Elementary dropped from a “D” to an “F.” Riverside Elementary was an “F” last year but improved to a “D” with a 5.6-point increase in its score.
Avoyelles Parish had the eighth largest improvement over last year’s state test results. It also improved its ranking among the 73 public school districts from 68th to 60th.
“I’m absolutely excited about the overall test scores, but not 100 percent satisfied,” Superintendent Blaine Dauzat said.
He said seven schools showed improvement over the previous year’s results and three declined.
LaSAS had the best score and the largest improvement from the previous year, increasing by 16.5 points to become an “A” school.
“We attribute the increase to the hard work of the faculty and administration at LaSAS,” Dauzat said. “However, we do acknowledge that LaSAS has some advantages that other schools don’t.”
LaSAS is a charter school operating under the direction and control of the School Board.
The “school report card” grading scale gives an A to any score over 100, B to 85-99.9, C to 70-84.9, D to 47-69.9 and an F to any score below 47.0.
Two of the schools declined by 1.7 points each, which did not affect their performance grade. Plaucheville Elementary re-mained a “C” and Lafargue Elementary kept its “B” rating.
Bunkie Elementary Learning Academy had the district’s biggest decline of 16.9 points and dropped one letter grade, from a D to an F.
Marksville Elementary remained an “F” school for the second straight year, but improved its score by 3.9 points to 44.2.
“We were surprised how many points BELA lost this year,” Dauzat said. “There are several things we are working on to help the school, including an emphasis on literacy in the early grades.”
He added the school system will start a summer reading program next summer at BELA and provide its teachers more training in the state curriculum.
There is no immediate threat of the state “taking over” a failing school, Dauzat said. A school must be an “F” for six years before the state will step in. MES is in its second year and BELA is only in its first as “F” schools.
“We can’t be satisfied with F schools,” Dauzat said. “We will be working to help all the schools but especially those schools.”
Results for other schools included an 11.1-point improvement at Marksville High, which just missed moving up to a “C” grade.
Avoyelles High improved 4.5 points to secure its grip on that “C” rating.
Bunkie Magnet High stayed a “D” school but improved by 6.3 points.
Cottonport Elementary, which was almost an “F” last year, rose 1.4 points to 48.5 to remain a “D.”

Test scores are not the only factor in measuring school performance scores, Dauzat noted.
Progress points are given by the DOE to reward districts that made a certain level of progress in bringing non-proficient-level students closer to proficient on the performance tests, even if a high number of its students are deemed “non-proficient” based on test results.
Progress points are similar to “extra credit” a teacher may give to a student who is failing the class but is only a few points from a “D.”
For example, Dauzat said Plaucheville’s students actually did better on the state tests this year, but the school did not get the progress points it earned last year, resulting in that slight dip in its performance score.
After last year’s drop from a “C” district to a “D,” Dauzat went into the schools to determine what happened. He said he found a disturbingly high number of teachers who said the state-aligned curriculum -- particularly Eureka math -- was too hard to teach. Steps were taken to get teachers familiar with the new curriculum and to teach their students what the state tests expect them to be taught.
This year, teachers and students are more comfortable with those state-aligned courses.
“There had been a problem with the curriculum, but now we are focusing on aligning with the state requirements,” Dauzat noted. “The attitude of the students is changing when it comes to math.
“Last year was the first year Eureka math was taught, and students struggled,” he continued. “This year is better and I’m hoping for an even bigger jump next year because it will be the third year.”
Dauzat said the district still has a lot of work to do.
“Yes, we are excited, but like I said, we are not satisfied,” Dauzat said. “We are going to focus on those things we can control -- teaching the state-aligned curriculum, improving classroom discipline, and things like that.”