La. graduation rate hits all-time high, other improvements revealed in 2015-2016 performance scores

Louisiana graduation rate hits all-time high, other improvements revealed in 2015-2016 performance scores - 6 p.m.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On a mobile device? Click here to see grades for the school districts in this area

Louisiana education officials have released school and district scores for the 2015-2016 school year, with the reports showing performance levels continuing to increase at state public schools.

The Louisiana Department of Education, however, said the reporting system must improve to capture the critical challenges of students in the state because it does not fully reflect the gains made by many schools.

"Improved ratings in our schools are a result of improved learning outcomes for students, using nationally recognized measures of success," said State Superintendent of Education John White in a written release. "At the same time, the ratings do not yet recognize progress being made with students who are starting at a lower level. They also do not yet provide students, parents, and educators a full picture of what it takes to be fully prepared for college or for a job. Just as we honor the successes reflected by today's announcement, we must provide a more comprehensive picture of what it means to be a successful school."

Officials said schools across the state made progress in testing for grades 3 through 8, ACT scores, graduation rate and performance in Advanced Placement and other similar programs.

"We're seeing an increase in student achievement in Louisiana because teachers and students are stepping up. The successes and improvements in our schools are undeniable," White added.

Reports indicate LEAP Test scores for students in grades 3 through 8 improved by six percentage points. They also show Louisiana was the most improved state in the U.S. that assesses all of its students for the ACT. Officials said the average composite for the class of 2016 in the state was 19.5, a new record for Louisiana.

According to officials, the graduation rate in 2016 also reached an all-time high, with 77.5 percent of students earning their high school diploma. They added the state's graduation rate has risen 10.3 percent in the past five years, compared to a 4.1 percent growth seen nationwide in the same time frame.

East Baton Rouge Parish once again received a C grade for its performance scores, but there was a drop in 2016 to 73.5 when compared to 2015 at 79.8.

Zachary Community Schools District was, once again, top in the state and actually improved by two points, going from 114.1 in 2015 to 116.2 in 2016. Central Community Schools District was not far behind with an 111.2 performance score in 2016, growing from its 104.4 in 2015. Both school districts received an A.

Ascension, Livingston and West Baton Rouge parishes also have A grades for 2016.

Pointe Coupee Parish was one of eight school districts with a D grade.

While test scores are up, the overall performances rating for the state is down from a B to a C. A large part of that score is based on how much lower performing students improve and whether they reach certain goals from year to year.

"In both Math and English, fewer than half of the struggling students in the state met their targets so while the state saw tremendous growth, low-performing students did not grow as much as the rest of the state," White said.

Ascension Superintendent David Alexander said he was not surprised by his district's high rating.

"We have high standards for student achievement. We make a commitment every day for quality instruction to implementing a rigorous curriculum," Alexander said.

Pointe Coupee Superintendent Kevin Lemoine called the scores misleading in some areas.

"That's one of the problems that superintendents across the state have are these progress points," he said. "It creates, in my opinion, a misleading grade because last year we dropped in test scores but we got our progress points so our district letter grade actually went up a bit."

Lemoine said four of five schools in his district improved but still the rating went down.

He hoped parents will see that, despite this small setback, schools are getting better.

"The kids are getting smarter, our teachers are working harder and our administrators are supporting that and that's what they should take out of it," Lemoine added.

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