Northside High School in Lafayette made enough improvements in the past school year to rid itself of the F grade it received the last time it was rated by the state, according to information released by the Louisiana Department of Education.
Northside High’s performance score improved from a 48.8, which resulted in an F rating, to a 51.1 — moving it to a D letter grade in the state’s accountability system. The school’s score boost was based on students’ improved performance on end-of-course exams and in the number of students scoring at least an 18 or higher on the ACT test.
“This is huge, getting that F off our backs so we can focus on improvement,” said Julia Williams, the school’s principal.
Williams said the F letter grade carries a stigma that’s hard to shake and affects student and community morale.
“The parents, students and teachers — I think we all bear that burden,” Williams said. “It labels you as a failure. It’s that perception that we’re a failure, and that’s not at all true. We’re so excited to be moving forward. I want to thank everyone for their support in making this happen: parents, community, staff, teachers and students. We appreciate everyone’s contribution to this.”
Williams said the school saw gains in students’ end-of-course testing, which she attributed to a period built into the school day used to help students become more proficient in skills they may be lacking.
The school also has seen gains in the number of its students who leave high school with not just a diploma but college credit through Advanced Placement courses or dual enrollment courses offered through the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College, Williams said.
For the first time last spring, Northside students also took the College Level Examination Program test, which enables students to receive college credit for their performance on tests.
“As always, a huge goal is to see our students graduate in four years,” Williams said. “I think these things will contribute to seeing an improvement in that.”
On Thursday, the Louisiana Department of Education released high school performance scores and high school report cards. The schools were rated based on a variety of factors measuring the performance of students and the course offerings of schools.
Schools could receive additional points on the 150-point scale for struggling students who showed improvement. These progress points could account for only up to 10 points on the 150-point scale. Northside High didn’t receive any progress points.
Here are the school performance scores and letter grades for other Lafayette Parish high schools:
Acadiana High: 71.3 and a C, slightly down from last year’s 71.8, also a C
Carencro High: 59.6 and a D, down from last year’s 66.0, also a D
Early College Academy: 121.7 and an A, up from last year’s A score of 116.3
Lafayette High: 100.4 and an A, up from last year’s B score of 98.5
Comeaux High: 83.8 and a C, down from last year’s B score of 88.1
Scores for elementary, middle and combination schools, such as Lafayette Parish’s David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy, which includes middle and high school grades, won’t be released until the week of Nov. 9.
In neighboring Vermilion Parish, three of its four high schools received letter grades of A: Erath, Kaplan and North Vermilion high schools. Abbeville High School maintained its C letter grade but showed a 2.1-point improvement over last year’s score. Gueydan High is considered a combination school, so its scores weren’t released on Thursday.
Overall, Vermilion Parish’s graduation success rate outpaces the state average. Eighty-nine percent of the parish’s high school students graduated with a diploma within four years, compared with the state average of 75 percent, Vermilion Parish schools Superintendent Jerome Puyau said in a news release. The results show that the parish is united in its efforts to help students succeed, Puyau said.
The week of Nov. 9, the state will release elementary and middle school students’ performance on new state standardized PARCC tests that were aligned with the new Common Core State Standards. In Lafayette Parish, public schools will hold PARCC Parent Nights to explain the results to parents and discuss resources they may need to help their child improve.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.