Schools' test scores show improvement
St. Mary Parish accountability test results have been released by the state Department of Education.
Students in grades 3, 5, 6 and 7 take the iLEAP test that provides critical data for schools in developing proactive measures to best meet individual student needs.
In comparison to the state average, St. Mary met or outscored 14 of 16 tested areas on the iLEAP. The highest ratings occurred in third grade math with 79 percent achieving proficiency, exceeding the state average by 8 percent. Reading subscores also are reported for students who participate in iLEAP testing.
District iLEAP results revealed that 71 percent of students achieved a rating of basic or above in reading.
This data is encouraging as it indicates student abilities to fluently read and comprehend text on grade level, according to Superintendent Donald Aguillard.
Reading skills are critical in preparing students for all core content areas and in building student competencies for future learning. Such results substantiate the district’s academic initiatives including Fast ForWord, Response to Intervention, Failure Free Reading, Reading Assistant, STEEP, DEEPMath, Math Enrichment, Everyday Counts Math, Voyager, and targeted after-school remediation, he said.
Students in grades 4 and 8 taking the high-stakes LEAP exam — required for promotion — posted admirable gains, demonstrating growth in seven of eight core areas.
In St. Mary, 87 percent of fourth-grade students will be promoted based on initial test results after achieving the state’s mandate of performance proficiency in the English language arts and math components of the LEAP test.
This proficiency percentage is significantly above the state’s 2012 average of 82 percent. The district’s upward trajectory in elementary test performance has remained steady over the last several years, rising from 65 percent in 2006 to 87 percent in 2011.
Elementary students experienced a decline in ELA; however, growth in other content areas maintained the overall proficiency of 87 percent, exceeding the state average by 5 percent.
Middle school test results reached an all-time high as 76 percent of district eighth-graders met promotional standards, above the state’s 75 percent.
District eighth-grade spring proficiency ratings improved 7 percent from 2011 and have increased 11 percent since 2006, moving from 65 percent to 76 percent.
This year’s sixth- and eighth-graders posted growth in all four core areas, with seventh-graders improving in three of the four core areas after declining 2 percent in ELA.
School and district personnel have worked diligently at the middle school level to refine instructional strategies and expand the number of intervention and enrichment courses in an effort to address identified gaps in student performance, Aguillard said.
Job-embedded professional development focused its attention on eighth-grade literacy and numeracy.
At the high school level, students are transitioning from the Graduation Exit Exam to End-of-Course tests. High school juniors are the last group to be assessed using the GEE in science and social studies. GEE results showed a consistent 86 percent passing rate in science with a 6 percent growth in social studies as 88 percent of juniors passed. EOC tests will now replace the GEE in specified courses. High school students took EOC tests in English 2, algebra 1, geometry and biology. English 3 and U.S. history will be added next year. Parish EOC results should be released before the end of May.
Reflecting on the release of iLEAP, LEAP, and GEE test results, Aguillard said, “I extend my sincere appreciation to our students, classroom teachers, building administrators, parents, instructional personnel, school board, support personnel and community for exerting every effort to improve our overall instructional program.
“Once again, accountability data validate that our instructional programs, intervention protocols and supplemental services are effective in addressing the learning needs of our students. The entire St. Mary Parish School System’s high level of commitment has clearly sustained the instructional success in motion documented over the past eight years.”