More than one-third of Ascension Parish public school students scored in one of the top two categories of educational attainment as measured by state accountability tests this year, newly released state scores show.

That amount — 36 percent of students scoring at the “advanced” or “mastery” levels on the state’s LEAP and iLEAP tests — puts the parish school system of 21,521 students in the 95th percentile of all school systems in Louisiana.

Parish school officials took those and other results from scores released Tuesday as a positive sign of their efforts but also an indication of new challenges as Louisiana is raising the accountability bar with a new testing regime tied to the Common Core curriculum.

In the 2013-14 year, 81 percent of students scored at basic or above, up from 79 percent in 2013, and good enough to put the school system in the 87th percentile statewide.

The state terms as “proficient” those students who make a “basic” or above rank among the tests’ five scoring categories. But Superintendent Patrice Pujol told the School Board during its finance and curriculum meeting Tuesday that many of those students scoring at “basic” will have to move up.

By 2025, the state will consider an A-rated school one where 50 percent of students test at “advanced” or “mastery” on state tests.

“That 81 percent needs to come up to that mastery level, you know, so that’s the work ahead of us in the next 10 years,” Pujol said.

The state Department of Education says this year’s LEAP and iLEAP were aligned with a new, tougher curriculum and are a one-time transition to the new state tests. Third- to eighth-graders take the LEAP or iLEAP. Fourth- and eighth-graders take the LEAP and have grade advancement on the line.

School performance letter grades will not be released until the fall, but the LEAP and iLEAP scores factor heavily into those accountability grades.

Jennifer Tuttleton, director of school improvement, said school officials are “very, very optimistic” that the system will have no “F”-rated schools this fall. That would mean Donaldsonville Primary and Lowery Elementary schools would cease to be F-rated.

“There’s been every indicator along way for the last two years that they were making great growth, and we feel like in the fall, that goal may be realized,” Tuttleton said.

She and Pujol credited the turnaround zone the school system instituted three years ago among the four schools on Ascension’s west bank and for four schools in Gonzales.

“You know, it’s just pretty amazing that we started with the seven being “F” schools, one school, an eighth school, that was just almost a “D,” you know, and that in just a couple short years, we have moved that needle so much,” Pujol said.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.