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The Lafayette Parish School System main office is pictured Monday, April 16, 2018, in Lafayette, La. ORG XMIT: BAT1804161232227826

Lafayette Parish schools saw LEAP score growth this year, both in the combined mastery category and in the individual English language arts, math and social studies categories.

For 2019, 39 percent of students in grades three through eight scored at mastery or above levels, the state announced Thursday. It’s a 2-point increase from the parish’s combined mastery plus percentage last year and is the second consecutive year the parish’s combined percentage has increased.

The parish’s combined mastery percentage was also higher than the state’s, which sat at 35 percent for third- through eighth-graders this year. The parish has consistently scored higher than the state in the combined score since changes to the LEAP tests began in 2015.

In 2019, 70 percent of school systems improved their performance, state education superintendent John White said Thursday. He said since 2015 an average of 20,000 students have moved from sub-par to mastery level or above .

“Our schools are making strides year over year, but we still have obvious challenges to address, and we need to do that in the coming year,” White said.

LEAP, or the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program, is used to gauge students’ knowledge in subject areas and their readiness to move on to the next year’s material. Students are scored and assigned a performance metric, either unsatisfactory, approaching basic, basic, mastery or advanced.

For years, the state considered “basic” the measure of proficiency, but in recent years they’ve increased the measure of proficiency to mastery. The goal is for an average student in an A-rated school to achieve mastery or above on the state tests by 2025, according to the state Department of Education’s website.

Students in third through eighth grade are tested in English, social studies and math, while high school students are assessed in English I & II, algebra I, geometry, U.S. history and biology. 

The percentage of third- through eighth-grade students scoring mastery or above in Lafayette Parish was ahead of or in line with peers in neighboring parishes for 2019. Lafayette had a higher percentage of students scoring mastery or above in math, social studies and on the combined score. For math, Lafayette and Iberia Parish both had 42 percent of students score mastery or above on the exam.

Vermilion Parish was the only neighboring district that consistently outpaced Lafayette. In each category, Vermilion’s percentage of students scoring mastery or above was 6 percentage points or higher than Lafayette’s.

The results were more mixed when broken down by individual school. Combined mastery scores for third- through eighth-graders went up in 19 schools, while 10 schools saw decreases. Four schools had no change in their combined mastery or above assessment.

Ernest Gallet Elementary saw gains in every category, increasing from 57 percent to 67 percent in the combined category; from 66 percent to 76 percent in English; 67 percent to 77 percent in math and from 40 percent to 48 percent in social studies.

It follows a trend of growth for the school, which also saw increases across all categories last year, including an increase from 47 percent to 57 percent in the combined category and an increase from 25 percent to 40 percent in social studies.

Woodvale Elementary’s mastery and above percentages were down across the board this year. In 2019, the school’s combined score went down from 60 percent to 51 percent and its social studies score went down from 50 percent to 41 percent. It was a similar result for math and English, which went down from 60 percent to 52 percent and 69 percent to 61 percent, respectively.

This wasn’t the case last year, except in math, when the school slipped from 69 to 60 percent of students scoring mastery or above in math exams.

Myrtle Place Elementary, which was tied for the largest single-year gain among Louisiana public elementary and middle schools last year, had mixed performance on the individual tests. While the number of students scoring mastery or above went from 56 percent to 64 percent in English, the school was down from 41 percent to 35 percent in social studies.

This comes after record gains last year, when the school saw the number of students scoring mastery or advanced increase from 43 percent to 56 percent in English, 37 percent to 62 percent in math and 24 percent to 41 percent in social studies as compared to 2017.


Email Katie Gagliano at kgagliano@theadvocate.com