Central Community Schools Maintain Top Five Ranking Despite New Tests, Problems with Opt Outs
CENTRAL, La. – The Central Community School System continues to rank among the state’s Top 5 districts in academic performance, according to the latest accountability report released by the Louisiana Department of Education on Thursday.
The report shows the district has an overall 104.4 District Performance Score to earn an “A” Rating and rank No. 5 among the state’s top-performing districts.
“Our students continue to compete at a very high level, despite transitions in the state’s tests, the increased rigor and higher expectations,” said Superintendent Michael Faulk. “Much credit goes to our teachers and administrators for maintaining a learning atmosphere and developing stronger teaching techniques.”
Faulk said the state’s scoring system uses a formula that calculates academic performance, “progress points” for improved performance, graduation rates, and strength of diploma measurements that include scores for students who successfully take dual credit, Advanced Placement and Industry-Based Certification courses. He noted that this year’s formula also reflects the state’s “accounting” for those students who were allowed to opt out of the tests in protest to Common Core.
“While the state determined that it would not just give zeros across the board, its scoring procedures for the ‘opt outs’ still penalize schools and districts,” Faulk said. “In some worst-case scenarios, zeros were given; and in the best-case scenarios, students were given their same scores from the previous year or an average of the students’ scores in their same grade. In no scenario could any of these students be scored as having improved, which is an important component of the grading formula.”
Faulk said nearly 9 percent of Central’s students opted out of testing in the spring. He said the highest concentration of “opt outs” occurred at the middle school level, thereby most affecting that school’s score.
However, Faulk noted that when the scores for those students in grades 3-8 who actually took the test are compared across the board, Central’s students out-scored their peers in virtually every subject at every grade level.
In fact, according to the report, more than 79 percent of Central’s students scored basic, mastery or advanced, giving them the second highest overall academic performance on the tests in the state, Faulk said.
“Our students who actually took the test performed extremely well,” Faulk said. “Our scores clearly show that our students are competing at a high level.”
Faulk also noted that Central High School improved its graduation rate and had more students successfully completing dual credit, Advanced Placement and Industry-Based Certification coursework. That effort improved Central High School’s School Performance Score to 106.1 – up from last year’s score of 97.4 points – earning it an “A” Rating.
Central Middle School also earned an “A” Rating with a score of 105.6 points, while Central Intermediate missed the top rating by two-tenths of a percentage point, scoring 99.8 points for a “B” rating. An “A” rating begins at 100.0 points.
Faulk said that because of the state’s reporting structure, the system’s two elementary schools – Tanglewood and Bellingrath – are given the same School Performance Score and letter grade as the intermediate school, regardless of their actual academic performance.
“Unfortunately, our elementary schools also received a ‘B’ Rating because of the slight drop in performance on the new tests at the intermediate level,” Faulk said. “While we are disappointed that we did not score A’s across the board, we are pleased that our students out-performed their peers on these new, rigorous tests. It certainly is our hope that the state’s testing efforts will be less tumultuous this year, and that the results will better reflect our progress.”