Concordia Parish schools among state’s top 10 most improved schools on 2021-22 state tests

Published 2:40 pm Thursday, August 18, 2022

VIDALIA, La. –  The Louisiana Department of Education released 2021-22 LEAP scores earlier this month that show strong student growth in Concordia Parish and statewide.

Concordia Parish was listed in the state’s top 10 school districts for one-year growth in LEAP test results.

Concordia Parish School’s Superintendent Toyua Watson Bachus said while it “feels good that the state recognizes that we’re on the right track,” the school district has a long way to go to make up for lost gains because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We have a long, long way to go,” she said. “We didn’t get a school performance score last year but we did get (test) scores and we took a major drop. Our district is moving in the right direction.”

Local results show Concordia Parish came in the number seven spot on a list of school districts with the highest growth in the percentage of students reaching Mastery and above. The parish grew by three percent, from 18 percent in 2021 to 21 percent in 2022.

Listed above Concordia Parish were East Feliciana, Lafourche, Natchitoches, and West Carroll Parishes with a Mastery growth of 4 percent and Allen and Calcasieu parishes with a growth of 3 percent. All on the list had a Master growth of three percent or higher.

Bachus attributed the accelerated student growth to the strong focus the district has placed on literacy, particularly with elementary students. Teams of principals, academic coaches, directors and teachers at each school hold meetings that give teachers the opportunity to discuss what is working pertaining to their classroom lessons and what they need to work on.

Bachus praised these teams and specifically Betty Marsalis, the elementary education director, for her work.

“We saw the fruits of their labor,” Bachus said.

Areas that the school district needs to focus on improving, she added was 6th and 7th-grade math, 8th-grade science and social studies across all grade levels.

“There is no computer program that can out teach a teacher,” she said. “We’re back in the classrooms now and still feeling some of the impact from children being away from school for a year and a half. We’re making the necessary changes to get back on track.”

All other areas saw improvement.

Algebra I and English II test scores are already near pre-pandemic levels and kindergarten through 2nd-grade students are doing better than before the pandemic, Bachus said.

“I feel confident saying this time next year we will at least be where we were,” she said. “In some areas, I’m fully comfortable saying we will surpass it.”

Statewide, mastery rates for students in grades 3-8 improved three points in both math and ELA. In total, 80 percent of Louisiana school systems improved their mastery rate when compared to 2020-21.

“After the impact of a global pandemic and two of the strongest hurricanes in our state’s history, Louisiana’s students are back on their feet,” said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley. “K-12 education is on the rise in Louisiana because we kept schools open, strategically allocated resources, and developed innovative solutions to recover and accelerate student learning.”

In addition to mastery rates improving three points in math and ELA for students in grades 3-8 and mastery rates improving for 80 percent of Louisiana’s school systems, results from LEAP assessments during the 2021-22 school year show:

  • In-person learning was a contributing factor to the progress. In 2021, 98 percent of LEAP testers engaged in full-time, in-person learning. This is compared to 57 percent in 2020-21.
  • Over the course of the pandemic, students engaged in full-time, in-person learning have outperformed those engaged in virtual learning.
  • Fewer Louisiana students scored Unsatisfactory, including a 3-point decrease in students scoring Unsatisfactory in math.
  • Mastery rates improved among numerous student subgroups including economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, Asian, African American, and white.
  • Mastery rates improved among all individual subject areas for grades 3-12.

“This progress is a true testament to the dedication of our educators to maintain high standards for students no matter the circumstance,” said Dr. Brumley. “We still have work to do before we’ve fully recovered from the impact of the last two years, but there’s excitement among our teachers and leaders to close that gap and continue moving our students forward.”

LEAP results for the 2021-22 school year are available on the LDOE website.

LEAP 2025 includes assessments of ELA, math, science, and social studies for grades 3-12. The tests measure the knowledge and skills defined by the state’s content standards for each grade. Student scores are reported on five levels: Unsatisfactory, Approaching Basic, Basic, Mastery, or Advanced. Students scoring Mastery and Advanced are considered proficient, or ready for the next grade level.