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Zachary Schools Zachary Superintendent Scott Devillier stresses the importance of education or skilled training to a group of Zachary High seniors in 2016.

Once again, Zachary came out on top in Louisiana on the LEAP standardized tests, collectively showing high mastery in English, math and social studies, according to results released Tuesday.

Zachary schools had the highest percentage of students who achieved mastery level in the three subjects during the spring Louisiana Educational Assessment Program tests — ranging from 50 percent mastery in social studies to 63 percent mastery in English. The top-ranked district located north of Baton Rouge, however, managed to improved its previous strong results only in English. Math in particular has slipped over the past two years.

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Ascension Parish, Central and West Feliciana Parish were all in the top five in the state; Livingston Parish made the top 10.

All the rest of the public school districts in the capital region trailed the state as a whole in mastering these three subjects, including East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena and West Baton Rouge parishes, as well as the city of Baker and schools in the state-run Recovery School District.

LEAP tests were given in grades three to eight this past April and May. Students in fifth to eighth grade take the tests exclusively on computers while student in third and fourth grade can take them with paper and pencil.

Students statewide did the best in English, followed by math and then social studies.

Results announced Tuesday also included scores for private schools participating in the state’s voucher program. Not every student in a participating private school takes LEAP and other state standardized tests, just those receiving vouchers.

This year’s results don’t include science. A new science assessment was field-tested this spring and will be given statewide in spring 2019.

Among individual elementary and middle schools in the capital region, Westdale Heights Academic Magnet school performed best, with 89 percent of students achieving mastery in English, math and social studies. Only eight other Louisiana schools performed better.

Twenty-one elementary and middle schools in the capital region had fewer than 10 percent of students achieving mastery in those three subjects. The two lowest were Brookstown Middle and Greenville Superintendent's Academy. At both schools, just 2 percent of students were able to master those three subjects.

Schools that flooded appeared to do a bit better this spring than they did a year earlier.

Baker and East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes, where schools were closed three to four weeks because of heavy damage in the August 2016 floods, received waivers from the state for school performance for 2017 because of the disruption.

Of those flooded districts, Baker rebounded the most. It showed the greatest increase in the state this year in mastery of English, math and social studies, though it remained near the bottom of state rankings.

East Baton Rouge recovered well in English and social studies and held steady in math. It was a turnabout from 2017 when the district had notable declines in English and math.

“These indicators are positive steps toward narrowing the achievement gap and this data will be used to build up future success in EBR schools,” Superintendent Warren Drake said in a statement Tuesday.

Livingston improved a bit as well, buoyed by growth in English. Springfield Middle School had the greatest improvement of any school in the Capital region, as 44 percent of its students showed mastery overall, up 12 percentage points from the year before.

St. Helena Parish came in last in the state, and it suffered the steepest decline. Mastery in St. Helena ranged from 3 percent in math to a high of 8 percent in English. Its poor showing erased strong growth in spring 2017 testing.

In 2015, Louisiana rolled out new educational standards. As part of that shift, the state began expecting schools to shoot not just for the basic achievement level, which used to be considered grade level, but to aim higher and achieve mastery or above in tested subjects. This year’s annual testing was the fourth in which schools have been tasked with meeting the higher standard.

Using the old standard, schools look a lot better. For instance, 70 percent of students statewide scored basic above this past spring, 27 percentage points higher than that of mastery and above. Top-ranked Zachary saw 85 percent of its students meet the old standard in English, while in bottom-ranked St. Helena Parish only 27 percent of students met the old standard in this subject.

The state also released results Tuesday for new end-of-course exams in Algebra I, English I and U.S. History that are aligned with the LEAP tests. They are taken by ninth- and 10th-graders.

Locally, Baton Rouge Magnet High did the best on these three exams, with 85 percent of student achieving mastery. The closest competitors were Dutchtown High School with 70 percent mastery and Lee High School with 68 percent mastery in those subjects.

At the other end of the spectrum, nine capital region high school had fewer than 10 percent of their students showing mastery in Algebra I, English I and U.S. History.

The two lowest are alternatives schools, EBR Readiness Superintendent Academy and Northdale Superintendent's Academy. Three are traditional high schools: Belaire, Broadmoor and Glen Oaks high schools. One is a charter school, Capitol High School. And three are private schools with voucher students: Ascension Christian School, St. Michael the Archangel and Trinity Christian Academy.

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Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.