School starts in Parish

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 21, 2000

VIDALIA, La.- New schools, old classes and a couple of changes in the school calendar will be awaiting hundreds of Concordia Parishs almost 4,000 public school students as they return to classes today, a week later than last year and all thanks to a high-stakes standardized test.

&uot;Things seem to be going pretty smoothly so far,&uot; Superintendent Lester &uot;Pete&uot; Peterman said Friday after a full day attending meetings and visiting schools to oversee preparations for the start of school. &uot;Now, we wait until Monday to see how things go then.&uot;

With federal court approval, the district has moved third grades in Ferriday and Vidalia to upper elementary schools, which will now house third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.

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That move, according to School Board members, was designed to allow third- and fourth-grade teachers to work together more closely to prepare students for the statewide LEAP test. The change will affect more than 150 third-graders.

The district has also moved kindergarten and pre-K classes in Ferriday from the Ferriday Kindergarten Center to Ferriday Lower Elementary. Nine new portable buildings have been brought in to handle the influx of students at those schools.

And because some fourth- and eighth-grade students failed the LEAP test in March and the retest in July, they will be taking some transitional classes in the areas they failed.

In essence, that means that such students will be retaking the English or math classes they took last year or, in some cases, both math and English while taking fifth- or ninth-grade classes in their other subjects. Such students will technically be in grades &uot;4.5&uot; or &uot;8.5&uot; this year instead of fifth or ninth grade, Peterman said.

According to figures the district received from the state earlier this month giving school officials little time to get children placed in the correct classes 16 regular education and 15 special education fourth-graders failed the English retest, while 44 regular education students and 15 special education students failed math.

Also, five regular education eighth-graders failed the English section, while 27 failed the math section. No special education eighth-graders passed either section.

But class changes aren’t the only changes being made due to testing. Spring break will also be pushed up from March to February, largely due to testing schedules. The LEAP and Iowa tests will be taken March 12 through 16, while Graduate Exit Exams will be taken April 2 through 4.

Otherwise, the districts calendar for this school year will be similar to the previous years calendar, with eight holidays, nine testing dates and seven early dismissals and one whole day for staff development activities. The school year will end May 30.