Parents and family of public school students, as well as staff and community members, may be interested in viewing Webster Parish Schools’ Annual Report Cards that are now available online.
“Overall, we are not pleased that our schools did not meet their growth targets,” Webster Parish School Board (WPSB) Assistant Superintendent Jackie Sharp said. “We only had two schools, Phillips and Shongaloo, that did meet the growth targets. We are very pleased with those schools, but not pleased that we were unable to meet our growth targets at the other schools.”
Schools Growth Target is the amount of progress a school must make each year to remain on target for reaching the state’s 2014 goal of a School Performance Score (SPS) of 120.
SPS consists of student attendance rates, student dropout rates, high schools’ student graduation results and standardized test results.
“Part of it is factors that are beyond your control,” Sharp said. “Student attendance plays a part in the schools achievement goal.
“You try everything you can to get the students to attend school regularly and on time and all day long, but if parents don’t see to it that their children are at school it affects your score,” she continued. “It affects it in two ways. It directly affects the score the school makes on attendance and then also it affects the students’ learning, because they have to be in the classroom to learn the lessons.”
The standardized test not only includes the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) test for 4th and 8th grades and the Graduation Exit Exam (GEE) for 10th and 11th grades but also iLEAP, LAA1 and LAA2 test results.
The iLEAP is given in grades 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9, and is aligned to state content standards and provides a basis to compare Louisiana’s students’ performance to the performance of students’ nation wide.
The LAA1 tests performance on functional abilities for students who have significant cognitive disabilities.
Students who have persistent academic disabilities take the LAA2, which measures progress of the student’s learning.
All of these factors were used to determine the school’s baseline SPS which falls on a scale of below 60 to 140 or higher. The Baseline SPS score was then converted into a Performance Label that uses stars to describe a school level of performance.
“(The state) divides the number of points the school needs to achieve by the number of years the school has to achieve the goal,” Sharp said. “For some of the schools, the growth target is very large.
“If a school has a very low score to begin with, it makes their growth goal even larger,” she continued. “It is very hard to achieve that much growth in one year.”
State legislation was passed last year that will change the rating system from stars to letter grades. Schools that meet their growth target will earn a plus sign after their letter grade. However, if a school declines from one year to the next, the letter grade will be followed by a minus sign.
The letter grades will go into effect this school year, which means schools will receive their first letter grades in October 2011, when School Performance Scores are released.
“I think the letter grades will have a negative effect rather than a positive,” Sharp said. “The Superintendent Association made a suggestion that if the schools achieved their growth targets, but still were not at the level they were supposed to be, that the school should still be awarded with a plus.
“However, the state in their final rule made it so that it seems more punitive and essentially demoralizing,” she continued. “It’s kind of hard to get excited about a school if the score is a C- or a D.”
Sharp said she wished there were more factors than a single test and attendance and the graduation index in high schools.
“I know it would be impossible to measure every factor of schools, but this seems to be an artificial measure that doesn’t always tell the whole story,” Sharp said.