Area school letter grades announced

By JEAN L. KAESS

The St. Mary Parish School System earned a C average during the 2010-11 school year as a district.

The new letter-grade system is being touted by state education officials as a clearer way of viewing school performance evaluations the state has been issuing annually for more than a decade.

Evaluations still are calculated based on student performance on standardized tests, attendance, dropout rates and graduation rates. But officials say the letter grades are a means of making the bottom line results easier to understand.

The grading system is similar to a report card, but the scale is different with an A being equivalent to between 120.0-200 points; B, 105.0-119.9; C, 90.0-104.9; D, 65.0-89.9; and F, 0.0-64.9. A plus sign indicates the school met its state-established growth target, while a minus sign indicates the school performance score declined by 0.1 point or more.

In St. Mary Parish, one school made an A, five made Bs, 11 scored Cs, six got Ds, and there were no Fs.

Statewide, 28 percent of public schools earned grades of A or B, while 44 percent earned Ds and Fs.

Superintendent Donald Aguillard recognized Berwick High School as the first school in St. Mary Parish to reach the 120 point SPS threshold, a goal the district has been striving toward for a decade.

Meanwhile, he noted, the district has jumped 17.6 points as a whole between 2004 and 2011, marking the fifth largest gain in the state. In 2004, St. Mary Parish was ranked 44th out of 66 school districts in Louisiana, he said.

“We have made steady progress in raising student achievement,” Aguillard said, adding, “our educators have been busy.”

Aguillard also noted that Hattie Watts Elementary was named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School. Schools are chosen based on their overall academic excellence or for their success in closing achievement gaps. Hattie Watts was chosen as a high performing school with at least a 40 percent disadvantaged population.

It joins two other Blue Ribbon Schools in St. Mary — Berwick Elementary in 2004 and Patterson High in 2006.

Meanwhile, St. Martin Parish received a District Performance Score of 90.8, for a grade of C. It was bested by local school Stephensville Elementary which received a 99.2 SPS, also a C.

In Assumption Parish, the district received an 89.7 for a score of D. It, too, was bested by area school Bayou L’Ourse Primary, which received a B+ with a score of 107.6.

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