CLINTON — East Feliciana Parish public school teachers and students had a brief moment to celebrate improvement shown in some school performance scores released by the state Department of Education last week.
On the district level, East Feliciana had the 12th highest growth rate on its district performance score, Superintendent Carlos Sam told School Board members at their Nov. 7 meeting.
The parish's score increased by 4 points, from 79.5 in 2015-16 to 83.5 in 2016-17.
The parish score was boosted by score increases by East Feliciana High School and the Slaughter Community Charter School.
The state assigned a letter grade of C to the district, the same as last year, but Sam noted that East Feliciana was only 1.5 points from attaining a B this year.
The parish also got all 10 points the state allowed for showing progress with moving students from a lower achievement level to the next higher level.
The education department recognized the high school for its 15.6-point increase in its school performance score, as well as Slaughter's charter school for its 11.5-point increase.
The high school in Jackson also improved its performance on the ACT by 30 points, while Slaughter's ACT performance improved by 31 points, Sam told the board members.
"Many, many districts, particularly high-performing districts, have not shown the growth we have this year," Sam said.
In a news release on Monday, Sam said he was pleased with the progress that the parish schools are making at the higher grade levels.
“The growth we’re seeing is a direct result of a districtwide effort to advance learning through better planning, instructional delivery, assessment and classroom management,” he said
Sam noted that the district is effectively utilizing several state and national grants to enhance academic performance.
The district’s largest grant is with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, which focuses on enhancing the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders through proven classroom practices and structures. Master teachers and curriculum coaches give feedback to educators on how to improve teaching strategies and techniques, as well as better individualize instruction. Evaluation results are compiled and reviewed, and a plan of action is developed at every level.
At the same time, the district has utilized the state’s TAP system to better develop teacher leadership skills and collaboration. As part of this program, first-year teachers are teamed with experienced educators who meet regularly and work together to develop effective lesson plans, Sam said in the news release. Special coaching is also provided for those teaching mathematics and science to sixth- through 12th-graders.
Sam said the district is making a strong push this year to expand upon many of the teacher development programs they have in place.
“We are working with our teachers at a variety of levels to find new, innovative ways to do our job better,” Sam said. “Our students can learn, and they can learn at high levels; we just have to be better equipped to work through the challenges that exist. We are continuously looking for ways to improve — our students deserve our full effort.”
Sam also warned that scores next year will be computed differently, with the probability that scores will plummet statewide.
Three of the parish's six schools earned a B grade this year, but three others also had a Ds.
The Slaughter charter school had the highest performance score, 98.9 for a B letter grade. The score was 1.1 points shy of an A letter grade.
Slaughter Elementary School also got a B with its 87.6 score, but the score dropped 5.6 points from last year.
The high school was next, with its 87.3 score and B letter grade.
The largest decrease from last year's score was at East Feliciana Middle School, which dropped 12.6 points for a performance score of 42.7 and a D letter grade.
Jackson Elementary's performance score was 52.4, a drop of 2.7 points from last year. It also had a D.
Clinton Elementary, which dropped by 1.3 points, had a score of 51.9 and was given a D letter grade.