Iberville School District performance score slipped slightly during 20-21

Staff Report

Iberville Parish public schools slipped four points in its district performance score for the 2020-21 school year, but it will not affect the school system’s letter grade.

The school district performance score slipped from 77 to 73 during a school year marred by pandemic-related quarantines and changes in learning formats geared to bring continuity to students during the coronavirus.

Iberville will maintain its B letter grade from 2019.

The federal government granted Louisiana and 46 other states a waiver that allowed those school systems a one-year moratorium on policies related to school performance test scores.

Performance scores slipped in 50 of the state’s 70 public school districts, according to data Louisiana Education Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley released last Friday.

The grading scale during a normal year is A, 90.0-150.0; B, 75.0-89.9; C, 60.0-74.9; D, 50.0-59.9 and F, 0-49.9.

The West Feliciana Parish School District notched the top score in Louisiana, nudging out the Zachary School District, which emerged runner-up after leading the pack for the past 15 years. Central, Ascension and Livingston rounded out the top five.

Iberville Parish School Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion

“For us, even last year was a real struggle with student attendance,” Iberville School Superintendent Dr. Arthur Joffrion said. “Several students, for whatever reason, opted for virtual, didn’t participate in virtual adequately, and attendance was not where we wanted it. If students are not in the seat, we can’t fill their minds.”

Math was the only area in which Iberville decreased.

“In most cases, we’re at the middle of the pack” he said. “Keep in mind this in the ranking and not percentage, so we surpassed some school systems that have traditionally been ahead of us.

“That’s an example of the high points, and we have been using this data. We provided teachers in grades and subjects with data on last year’s performance from students, as well as the performance scores for this year so they can have information on where they fared well as a teacher last year and what needs improvement on this year, as well as the actual student data on the students in the current classroom,” he said.

The ongoing push for higher accountability scores comes when teachers feel a greater struggle than ever, Joffrion said.

“In order to achieve and do well, the level of rigor they have to use in their classrooms is more challenging now than ever, and because of COVID, there are legitimate gaps in learning for our students,” he said.

The current school year has brought the strongest level of normalcy since the pandemic.

Second-graders represent the student group with the greatest and most newfound sense of normalcy, Joffrion said.

“A second-grader this year has had more normalcy this year than they’ve had at any time since their kindergarten year, when schools closed in March,” he said. “The following year, there was a mix of hybrid, virtual, face-to- face and quarantines, which led to so many unknowns.”

It’s a different story for teachers, however.

The pressure to close those gaps has spiked the stress level among educators, Joffrion said.

“They’re under pressure to help close learning gaps to teach on-level standards to mastery – all while trying to handle the social and emotional needs of the students going from isolation back into the social environment, and the fears,” he said. "As educators, now more than ever, you’re not only addressing academic needs, but also the social-emotional needs.

“Educators right now are saints, and they’re still feeling a lot of pressure,” Joffrion said. “Teachers are expected to be superhuman, and the expectation from the public on teachers, from the system and state and everyone, teachers are just expected to be all things to all kids every single day. Our teachers are showing up and doing it because they love their students, they love what they do and they’re making a huge impact on kids through one of the most tumultuous times the world has ever seen.”

They also face a future of uncertainty in relation to the pandemic.

While most school system employees have been vaccinated, fears persist of new cases and new variants, which is a new constant.

“We just now have students eligible to receive the vaccinations, and so parents are having to make tough decisions around whether or not they will vaccinate their child,” Joffrion said. “It’s certainly not the school system’s place to tell them to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, but with teachers are standing in classrooms who cannot be vaccinated or will not be vaccinated, that adds extra stress.

"COVID evokes fear,” he said. “Overall, our teachers are amazing. Our teachers are dedicated, hardworking, meeting the academics as well as the emotional health needs of our students in a miraculous way.”