Officials expect slight fall in test scores

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2008

VIDALIA — Louisiana’s school performance scores are expected later this month, and Concordia Parish educators expect some schools to be classified as “in decline.”

But that might not be as bad as it sounds.

Any drop in school performance scores leaves a school classified as in decline.

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“If they have a score in the 90s and they go back a point or two, they are considered a school in decline even though it is a very good score,” Superintendent of Schools Loretta Blankenstein said.

Scores were set to be released earlier in the year, but because of hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the state education offices in Baton Rouge were closed.

Even though the state has not released any official information, the school district knows the formulas that are used to calculate school performance scores and was able to determine within a few points where each school would stand.

There are some variables that the district was not able to account for, and that is why the state’s numbers may be different, Nelson said.

It will also be very hard for most schools to meet their academic growth requirements.

That is because the No Child Left Behind act requires that every school have a school performance score of 120 by 2014, Nelson said.

Every year, the growth target is determined by dividing out the number of points between the school’s previous score and how many years are left for them to achieve the score of 120.

“If the school’s score is 65 or 70, in order to meet that (goal) they would have jump an astronomical amount,” Nelson said. “The formula is so back loaded that by the time you get to 2012 and 2013 your school should be jumping 20 points. It’s not realistic to believe your school will jump 15 points a year.”

It is because of that that some schools, like Ferriday Upper Elementary and Ferriday Junior High School, will be noted as having academic growth but not achieving their growth goal, Nelson said.

School performance scores are based on such factors such as testing scores, attendance and dropout rates.

The calculations were first made in the summer, and school district officials met with school administrators then to map out plans to improve weak areas for the coming year, Blankenstein said.

But even if improvements are made across the board right away, the attendance factor is based on the prior year, so this year’s attendance won’t show up on the school performance scores until 2010.

“It’s not that I’m not proud of the improvement we have made, but we know everyone can improve and we are looking forward to that improvement,” Blankenstein said.

“It’s never too late to try and make progress.”