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Caddo schools commended for student growth amid tougher grading system
Five schools increase by a letter grade while district sets Top Gains record
Schools across Caddo Parish earned significant accolades for gains made in student performance according to information released Thursday by the Louisiana Department of Education.
The annual release of school performance scores shows five schools improved performance by a letter grade with more than 40 schools maintaining their letter grades in a year of great changes in the state accountability system. Additionally, 16 schools garnered the highest recognition from DOE, the Top Gains distinction – a substantial increase from four in 2017 and an all-time district record.
New this year to the state’s data release is commendation as a 2018 Equity Honoree for which nine schools earned accolades. To earn this distinction, a school must be in the highest tier for progress with special education, English Language Learners and high poverty student populations. Earlier this year, two Caddo schools – E.B. Williams Stoner Hill and Southern Hills – were noted for their sizable progress in advancing students considered at-risk.
Districtwide, while school systems across the state decreased by a letter grade during the implementation of the toughest grading system in Louisiana’s history, Caddo maintained its C letter grade. Caddo, like other districts, did see an increase in schools rated as an ‘F’, but was given an overall B for student progress. This also marks the second year in Caddo’s history the district has no F-rated high schools since the inception of the state’s accountability system.
Across the state, districts of comparitive size, including East Baton Rouge and Jefferson, joined Caddo in holding steady to their letter grades while numerous districts saw letter grade decreases in the first year of implementation of the tougher grading system.
In 2017, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education accepted a proposal from State Superintendent John White to change the way schools and districts are rated. Under the approved plan as Louisiana’s response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, the number of F-rated schools was estimated to rise by 57 percent and those with A ratings were expected to drop by 38 percent according to reports. This year’s release marks the first under the new accountability model. Even with this new system, Caddo was noted for its student progress, particularly with high poverty and minority student populations.
“There is no doubt this year was the hardest for school systems as we adapted to one of the toughest grading systems in the nation, however I am proud of our schools who stepped up to the plate and seamlessly continued efforts to provide the highest-quality education for every child,” said Dr. T. Lamar Goree, Superintendent of Caddo Schools. “To say this new measurement is challenging is an understatement, but our schools have shown they are ready and prepared to meet the needs of children no matter their race, gender or ZIP code.”
In the Transformation Zone, all Zone schools earned a C or higher for student progress with 10 campuses earning a B.
Dr. Goree notes that while a strong foundation has been laid there is more work to be done, but Caddo stands ready for the task. Last year, Caddo partnered with the Louisiana Department of Education to launch the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) in all Transformation Zone schools. The program provides on-site mentorship and training for teachers directly to meet the needs of individual children. The TAP model also recognizes and rewards teachers who show student growth through annual performance payouts.
Furthermore, Caddo has placed the highest-rated curriculum and aligned resources in every classroom to ensure teachers and students have materials directly designed in accordance with the Louisiana State Standards.
“Quality learning comes from providing the best resources to our schools as well as strong training and supports for our teachers,” said Keith Burton, Chief Academic Officer. “Through these efforts, our teachers are making progress focused solely on student achievement.”
As part of efforts to support teachers and schools, Caddo’s academic content specialists began meeting with schools, which were slated to see a decline, and working with them to develop individualized, prescriptive supports to support student learning.
“We are a diverse, very unique district and our plans for schools cannot be one size fits all,” Dr. Goree said. “We must use all available data points to understand what is taking place in our classrooms, but understand there is much more that comprises our students and teachers than a test score. That is why we work closely with each school leadership team to create a prescriptive plan designed for that individual school and that individual classroom.”
By the Numbers