School accountability Crescent School shines, system's light still dim

Deidre Cruse, Government Reporter

Despite modest performance gains, Iberville Parish School System ranked in the bottom 12 percent of Louisiana school districts –    61st among 69 districts, new accountability reports show.

Two Iberville schools – Plaquemine High and Iberville Elementary – were named to an “academic watch” and could be labeled academically unacceptable if their performance scores do not improve by 2012.

Crescent Elementary and Junior High School, although it did not meet its growth target, became the first local school with a performance score of more than 100 points. It is the only parish school with a three-star performance label on a five-star scale in which five is the highest.

The local graduation rate dropped 46 percent in the 2009-10 school year, far behind the state average of 67.4. The local rate was nearly 56 percent for the previous school year.

“This is just embarrassing,” School Board Member Brian S. Willis of Plaquemine said of the graduation rate when the figures were presented to the board last week.

The top 10 school districts had graduation rates ranging from 81 to nearly 90 percent.

Iberville School Superintendent P. Edward Cancienne Jr. is recommending a plan aimed at meeting more rigorous state standards for high school graduation called for in a high school redesign program. He will ask the School Board to consider it at its December 13 meeting.

As reported earlier, the Iberville system ranked 21st in growth in its performance scores for 09-10. The district performance score rose from 77.8 to 80.3, a 2.5-point gain that was a tick higher than the state average gain of 2.4 points. The average state performance score, however, was 91.8 points.

School performance scores reported to the board last week showed   all seven regular schools improved, but only three of them met their “growth targets” last year, according to information Erin Gros presented to the board last week.

The scores of students attending the Math, Science and Arts Academy program, which contributed substantially to the gains, are folded into the scores of what would have been their home schools. Figures were not available for the Optional Education Center.

School performance scores are based largely on student scores on standardized tests, but also include attendance, dropout or   graduation rates.

Gros also presented an assessment of performance scores among “subgroups” that included comparisons among special education and regular education students, students receiving free and reduced-price lunches (some 80 percent of Iberville public school students) and those who pay for lunch, and races.

The scores of all local students averaged 78.6 points, compared to 89.3 for the state. Iberville ranked 54th among the state's 69 regular school districts, according to information from the state Department of Education.

Special education students' scores averaged 42.6, compared to 58.5 for the state. Iberville ranked 65th.

Regular education students' scores averaged 83.1, compared to 93.2 for the state. Iberville ranked 55th.

Free and reduced-price lunch students' scores averaged 75.2, compared to 78.6 for the state. Iberville ranked 53rd.

Paid lunch students' scores averaged 97.3, compared to 110.2 for the state. Iberville ranked 55th.

Black students' scores averaged 71.1, compared to 72.4 for the state. Iberville ranked 40th.

White students' scores averaged 97.9, compared to 104.5 for the state. Tied with Jefferson Parish, Iberville ranked 45th.