Department of Education, ...'Accountability system is working.'

The Louisiana State Department of Education released the 2008 School Performance Scores (SPS) for 1,263 public schools across the state. This year marks the 10th anniversary for the implementation of the Accountability System, and, as scores indicate, Louisiana's public schools are continuing to improve substantially in overall scores, as well as in specific areas.

In a recent report by the Tangipahoa Parish School System, the parish showed marked improvement, rising from an overall 7.9 in 2007 to an 82.1 for the 2008 school year, and gained a "Two Star" rating (out of five possible stars) from the State Department of Education.

According to the State DOE website, Tangipahoa rates number 45 out of 69 school districts statewide. "We obviously want Tangipahoa Parish to be in the top of the state...however, we are pleased with the progress we have shown as a district, and I congratulate our schools on their individual and collective achievements in the latest round of accountability testing," commented Parish School Superintendent Mark Kolwe.

Probably the most notable accomplishment, is that as of this year, Tangipahoa Parish has no schools in the AUS, or academically unacceptable status. "...we have had four schools struggling to bring their SPS to the 60 level, and as of this round of testing, all of our schools have met this goal," stated Chief Academic Officer, Melissa Harrison. A prime example is Roseland Elementary, which was scheduled for potential state takeover, brought their scores up 22.8 points, and rose out of AUS.

In a recent letter from State Superintendent Paul Pastorek congratulating Roseland on no longer being eligible for state takeover, Pastorek encourages other schools in the parish to model their efforts to enhance student achievement after Roseland.

Two other parish schools, O.W. Dillon, as well as Hammond Eastside Upper Elementary also raised performance scores significantly. OWD posted a 8.4 gain, while HEU managed to raise it's scores by 6.1 points.

In an effort to further monitor and continue their progress, Kolwe announced recently that the district's pilot Benchmark testing, for LEAP students grades 4 and 8, has been expanded districtwide and will now monitor grades 2-8 as well. Teachers use these scores to identify potential weaknesses in preparation for the high stakes testing that takes place in the spring.

Schools also continue to receive funding to aid remedial areas in the form of grants. To date, their are 12 schools in the district which are or will receive grant funding to help with literacy alone. Two other schools sought and received grants to improve students math skills.

Other initiatives, such as High School Redesign, the 9th grade Academy and advisory groups have been implemented, all in an effort to improve student achievement and to continue the acceleration toward excellence in education.

Kolwe reminds the public that although the programs offered in our schools allow the students great opportunities, "Our personnel are the ones who ultimately help make our schools successful," and offered his personal thanks and appreciation for the role personnel plays in helping students achieve their goals.

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