Parish testing results show improvement, decline

By: Jeannine LeJeune
BATON ROUGE – As the end of the school year comes to a close across the state, schools have found out the results for the 2011 iLEAP, LEAP and GEE testing.

Overall, notable improvement was shown statewide by fourth and eighth graders on the LEAP test, four percent increases in both.

The results were released Tuesday by the Louisiana Department of Education.

“The news is good this year,” said Ollie Tyler, acting state superintendent of education.

Tyler’s theme, that Louisiana is on the right course, was echoed by Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Penny Dastugue, who agreed with Tyler’s sense of urgency and emphasized the need to move forward with even greater determination to implement critical reforms.

“We’ve repeatedly said Louisiana isn’t letting up - and these gains are proof we mean it,” Dastugue said. “But let’s be clear. We have to move faster. Despite our progress, more than 230,000 students aren’t at grade level. They’ll either spend the next few weeks in summer school, or worse, they’ll progress to the next grade behind their peers. So while I’m grateful for the hard work of our educators, students, families, and communities, I hope this news today, which again proves we can do better, inspires our citizens and communities to weigh in on critical decisions that will have a profound impact on our future direction and progress.”

The GEE results were not as great. For 10th graders, 230,000 students still perform below grade level or roughly one third of the state’s nearly 700,000 public school students.

The barometer for schools, however, have been the LEAP test and those results were just part of the good news.

Results of spring testing show:

• Up from 76 percent at this time last year, 80 percent of fourth graders passed the LEAP test.

• 74 percent of eighth graders passed the test, which is up from 70 percent in 2010.

The good news is also a welcomed surprise as last year’s dropped slightly last year, and the improvements are being attributed by state officials to new statewide programs like literacy programs in the early grades and special aid for low-performing eighth graders.

Gains shown by fourth and eighth graders mean that about 2,300 more students passed the LEAP this year, according to Scott Norton, assistant state education superintendent.

“We think that is great news,” said Norton.

Nearly 97,000 fourth and eighth graders took the tests this year. The LEAP test, as it is known, is the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program and results from the test are broken down into five categories–advanced, mastery, basic, approaching basic and unsatisfactory. For a student in the fourth or eighth grade to continue on to the next grade, fifth and ninth respectively, he or she must achieve at least a “basic” level in math or English and “approaching basic” in the other.

Locally, Acadia Parish’s fourth graders improved by three percent as 74 percent of students met promotional standards this spring. Meanwhile, 69 percent of eighth graders in the parish met promotional standards, down four percent from last year.

Of the students that took the iLEAP test in third grade this spring, 89 percent of the students achieved a level of approaching basic or higher with 5 percent achieving advanced, 19 percent - mastery, 47 percent - basic and 18 percent - approaching basic in English language arts. In math, 87 percent achieved approaching basic or better, with 8 percent achieving advanced, 16 percent - mastery, 44 percent - basic and 18 percent - approaching basic.

Fifth graders who took the iLEAP also had good results as only 10 percent of the students that took the English language arts portion of test scored unsatisfactory while 13 percent scored unsatisfactory on the math portion of the test.

Sixth graders who took the iLEAP did well this spring with only 9 percent achieving below the approaching basic level in English and 18 percent recording an unsatisfactory in math.

Seventh graders also did well this year on the iLEAP. Of those who took the test about 8 percent scored an unsatisfactory in English and 14 percent scored an unsatisfactory in math.

For those who took the LEAP tests in the parish 89 percent of fourth graders achieved an approaching basic or above in English and 84 percent in math scored an approaching basic or above.

Eighth graders did well also, with 94 percent scoring either advanced, mastery, basic or approaching basic in English and only 18 percent scored unsatisfactory in math.

The GEE results, while not fantastic overall, did show that almost 90 percent of students tested scored approaching basic or higher in both math and English.

The Acadia Parish School Board pointed to the big gains in the English language arts sector at all levels of testing. Like those with the LDE, the board believes they are seeing the benefits of the reading program implemented several years ago. The superintendent’s office also pointed that students’ progress is being maintained each year as they move on to other grades and how at the high school level, the parish is outperforming the state average. The only cause for concern appeared to be at the eighth grade level, but the APSB says that will, be addressed over the summer with remediation and so on to better prepare students for the high school level.

As always, the APSB will use these results to make decisions to help students next year and in the future.

Acadia Parish Today

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