More EBR schools face state scrutiny

Six public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish were added to the list of those facing state sanctions Tuesday because they failed to meet new academic standards, state officials said.
Meanwhile, Capitol Middle School scored just high enough to escape its past classification as an academically unacceptable school.
Statewide, the number of schools that scored below the minimum required shot up 65 percent amid tougher classroom standards aimed at im-proving student performance.
“We realize today’s news is unwelcomed,” Penny Dastugue, president of the state Board of Elementary and Sec-ondary Education, said in a prepared statement.
But Dastugue said the board approved tougher standards for schools because more than half of students were performing below grade level.
The results, which are called “school performance scores,” amount to a yearly report card on how Louisiana’s roughly 1,300 public schools are faring. About 6 percent are now classified as academically unacceptable.
Most of the scores are based on how students did on key tests.
New schools on the list face gradually escalating sanctions and, if they fail to improve,  state takeovers.
Since 2005, schools had to achieve scores of at least 60 out of about 200 to remain off the list.
However, the minimum score rose to 65 this time  because of a new policy approved last year by BESE.
A score of 65 means that 61 percent of students are performing below grade level, state officials said.
The new additions in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system are:

  • Belaire High School, 64.4.
  • Broadmoor Middle School, 63.5.
  • Melrose Elementary School, 64.4.
  • East Baton Rouge Labora-tory Academy, 23.
  • Capitol Elementary School, 61.3.
  • Inspire Charter Academy, 64.2.

Meanwhile, Capitol Middle School was one of six  statewide that left the list of aca-demically unacceptable schools.
It scored 65.2.
In a prepared statement, officials of the East Baton Rouge Parish school system said schools newly classified as academically unacceptable generally got that label because of the state’s higher minimum standards.
“We can always do better and will continue to focus on im-proving teaching and learning,” Superintendent John Dilworth said in the statement.
Dilworth said there are other encouraging trends in his district.
Lizabeth Frischhertz, chief accountability officer for the East Baton Rouge school sys-tem, said in an interview Tuesday that the score for East Baton Rouge Laboratory Academy, a high school, will likely be challenged for technical reasons.
The East Baton Rouge Parish school system now has nine schools rated as academically unacceptable aside from those already under state control.
Including schools already taken over by the state, Louisiana has 79 public schools rated as academically unacceptable, up from 48 last year.
“We predicted a significant increase in the number of schools that would initially fail to meet the minimum standard,” Ollie Tyler, acting state superintendent of education, said in the state Department of Education’s prepared state-ment.
Tyler said she is confident schools will overcome their unsatisfactory status “given the history of our districts and schools in responding to tougher standards.”
Other area public schools added to the academically unacceptable list are:

  • Donaldsonville Primary School, 63.9.
  • Baker Heights Elementary School, 64.8.
  • Baker Middle School, 60.6.
  • Bakerfield Elementary School, 64.3.
  • St. Helena Central Elementary School, 54.2.
  • St. Helena Central High School, 54.2.





Louisiana Department of Education
Post Office Box 94064 | Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9064 | 1-877-453-2721 | Fax: (225) 342-0193
Date: 7/26/2011
Contact: Rene’ Greer, (225) 342-3600, Fax: (225) 342-0193

BATON ROUGE, La. – Results of spring testing released by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) in May revealed more Louisiana students than ever are grade-level proficient. But a five-point boost in the minimum mark needed to avoid the Academically Unacceptable School (AUS) label placed more schools on the state’s 2011 AUS list, which was released by LDOE today. 


Based on their preliminary 2011 School Performance Scores (SPS), 48 traditional (non-alternative and non-RSD) schools failed to meet the minimum SPS score, which increased from 60 in 2010 to 65 in 2011. While the most recent AUS list includes 31 schools that were not on the 2010 list, two traditional schools managed to shed the label despite the tougher standard. Those schools are J.S. Clark Microsociety Academy in Caddo Parish and Capitol Middle School in East Baton Rouge Parish.


The higher standard was adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in January 2010. In fact, next year, the minimum score to avoid the AUS designation will increase another 10 points, to 75. Even though state officials anticipated an increase in the number of schools designated AUS, they expressed confidence in the ability of the education community to respond to the challenge.


“We predicted a significant increase in the number of schools that would initially fail to meet the minimum standard,” Acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler said. “But I have no doubt that we will see schools quickly overcome this status, given the history of our districts and schools in responding to tougher standards.”


When Louisiana’s accountability system was launched in 1999, the minimum-cut score was 30. In 2003, the minimum standard was increased to 45. In 2005, it was raised once again to 60.


To Tyler’s point around the impact of raising standards, 477, or 40 percent, of the state’s 1,188 scored schools earned an SPS below 65 in 1999. In 2011, 9.9 percent, or 135 of the state’s 1,361 alternative, traditional and Recovery School District schools, earned a 2011 SPS below 65.


The bottom line, state policymakers said, is these increases in School Performance Scores represent gains in student achievement. In the last three years alone, the percentage of students performing at grade level has risen from 60 percent in 2008 to 66 percent in 2011 – meaning approximately 23,000 more students are performing at grade level now than three years ago.


“We realize today’s news is unwelcomed. But we haven’t lost sight of our progress and the effort being put forth by educators across our state to ensure our students have the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in school and beyond,” Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President Penny Dastugue said. “What BESE did when we made the decision to raise standards is say ‘It’s not acceptable that more than half the students in a school are performing below grade level. Our students deserve more from us.’ Our commitment and challenge now at the state level is to work with schools and districts to get every school in the state over the bar.”


An analysis of School Performance Scores indicates an SPS of 65 represents a school where approximately 61 percent of the student population is performing below grade level. School Performance Scores are calculated for K-6 grade schools using student test scores (90%) and attendance (10%). Schools with a seventh and eighth grade configuration receive an SPS based on attendance (5%) dropouts, (5%), and student test scores (90%). High schools (grades 9-12) receive an SPS based on test scores (70%) and their Graduation Index (30%).


Under the new letter-grade policy adopted by BESE in December 2010, schools labeled AUS will receive a failing grade when the state’s nearly 1,400 schools receive their performance scores and corresponding letter grades in October. Today’s LDOE release centers on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirement that all states must release a preliminary list of schools that are required to offer choice or Supplemental Educational Services.


Traditional schools (non-alternative and non-RSD) identified as AUS 1, AUS 2, or AUS 3 are located in the following districts:

  • Ascension Parish (1)
  • Avoyelles Parish (2)
  • Bienville Parish (1)
  • Caddo Parish (10)
  • East Baton Rouge Parish (8)
  • Jefferson Parish (2)
  • Natchitoches Parish (1)
  • Pointe Coupee Parish (1)
  • Rapides Parish (2)
  • St. Helena Parish (2)
  • St. James Parish (1)
  • St. Landry Parish (1)
  • City of Baker School District (3)
  • City of Monroe School District (2)
  • Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Type 2 Charter Schools (2) – (Madison Preparatory Academy and The MAX Charter School)
  • Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Special School (1) – Louisiana Special Education Center

There are no traditional schools identified as AUS 4 this year. Each of the eight schools labeled AUS 5 or AUS 7 is currently operating under a Memorandum of Understanding or Management Agreement with the RSD or an agreement negotiated with LDOE.


The list released by the Department today includes alternative schools. These schools provide educational services to students with academic and/or behavioral problems, many of whom have been either suspended or expelled. Performance scores for alternative schools were not released in 2009 and 2010, while the School and District Accountability Commission reviewed the evaluation method for the academic performance of these schools. Earlier this summer, BESE approved the release of performance scores for alternative schools, based upon the recommendation of the Accountability Commission.


The release published by LDOE also includes RSD schools with a 2011 SPS below 65, even though transfer to the RSD represents the most intense level of intervention under Louisiana’s accountability model, and RSD schools must comply with sanctions prescribed by NCLB. However, despite the higher bar, four schools labeled AUS last year raised their SPS enough to shed the AUS designation this year. Those four RSD schools are Andrew Wilson Charter School, Harriet Tubman Elementary School, Algiers Technology Academy, and James Weldon Johnson School.


Sanctions Faced by Schools in AUS Status


Each consecutive year a school is labeled AUS, it moves to a higher level, ranging from AUS 1 – AUS 6+. And every year the school remains in AUS status, it is required to implement additional strategies aimed at improving academic achievement. For example, schools designated AUS 1 must offer Supplemental Educational Services (SES), such as after-school tutoring. Schools labeled AUS 2 must also offer school choice. As schools proceed to higher levels, the consequences become more stringent. Schools labeled AUS 4 or higher are eligible for transfer to the state’s Recovery School District.


Schools that are participating in LDOE’s School Improvement Grants (SIG) program and are implementing the Turnaround Intervention Model may not face the same sanctions. In an effort to avoid conflicting with their on-going SIG plans, these schools will continue to be labeled AUS, but are not required to implement the corresponding AUS interventions during their participation in the grant program.


Academic Watch List and Subgroup Component Failure (SCF)


Last year the Department issued an Academic Watch list for the first time. The 2010 Academic Watch List included 201 Louisiana schools that earned a 2010 SPS between 60 and 74.9. This year’s Academic Watch list includes 155 schools that earned an SPS between 65 and 74.9, which would earn them the AUS label in 2012. While schools on the Academic Watch list do not currently face sanctions, the list provides schools with notice that they will fall into AUS status if they do not raise their SPS above 75.


Today’s release by the Department also identified 31 schools that failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in reading or math for identified subgroups. These schools are designated as School Improvement I (SI 1) or School Improvement 2 (SI 2) and must adhere to sanctions outlined by NCLB.


Three schools exited subgroup component failure this year by meeting their AYP for two consecutive years in the subject in which they failed. Those schools are Winbourne Elementary School in East Baton Rouge Parish, Jeanerette Senior High School in Iberia Parish, and Destrehan High School in St. Charles Parish.


For more detailed information, please click on the following links:


Preliminary List of Academically Unacceptable Schools (AUS) and Academic Watch List (2010-2011 School Year


Recovery School District Schools SPS Below 65 (2010-2011 School Year)


Preliminary Subgroup Component Failure List (2010-2011 School Year)

# # # # # #

Edwin Edwards to marry later this week

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards will celebrate his birthday this weekend as a married man.

Edwards’ fiancee, Trina Grimes Scott, said Monday that they plan to marry Friday in front of 10 guests.

“We are both extremely excited and looking forward to being husband and wife. We are having a very small, intimate ceremony,” she said by e-mail Monday morning.

Scott, 32, will be Edwards’ third wife.

The day after the wedding, Edwards will celebrate his 84th birthday at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans.


State picks private companies for Medicaid service

State health officials Monday named the five companies chosen to implement the Jindal administration’s new health care delivery system for the poor.

The managed care program will cover two-thirds of the state’s 1.2 million Medicaid recipients – mainly children – and moves the state toward privatization of a good part of its $6.7 billion health care program for the poor.

Critics have argued that the program diverts health care dollars into insurance company profits. Proponents contend the program will help reduce costs and improve the health of those covered by it.

Twelve entities vied for the contracts to offer “coordinated care networks” which emphasize preventive and primary care and emphasize “best practices.” Insurers or third party entities develop health care networks of physicians, hospitals and others to provide patient care.

“We picked the five best,” said state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein. “They are five plans with significant experience in the Medicaid market in changing the behavior of the recipients and enrollee that lead to better (health) outcomes.”

Nine companies were interested in implementing a prepaid program involving the payment of a flat sum, or insurance premium, to cover health care costs.

Chosen for the “prepaid” program were Louisiana Healthcare Connections Inc., AmeriHealth Mercy of Louisiana and AmeriGROUP Louisiana Inc.

Three others filed for a “shared-risk” model under which fees are paid for services rendered. Two were chosen: United Healthcare of Louisiana, Inc., and Community Health Solutions of America.

Up to three entities could be chosen for each health care region.

The CCNs are scheduled to be operational statewide by May 1. A phase-in begins in the Orleans area region Jan. 1.


NCAA accepts LSU self-imposed penalties

The NCAA announced Tuesday afternoon that it will accept LSU’s self-imposed football penalties for recruiting “major violations” mostly involving former assistant coach D.J. McCarthy.
The NCAA will place LSU on a one-year probation through July 18, 2012 and limit LSU’s official recruiting visits for football by 10 percent this fall.
The NCAA ruling also, in effect, lessens LSU’s self-imposed penalties by counting LSU’s reduction of two football scholarships retroactively to last season, instead of for the upcoming season as LSU initially announced in December.
Last year, LSU had 83 or fewer football players on scholarship, instead of the maximum 85 scholarship players.
This fall, LSU will now be able to have the full allotment of 85 scholarship players.
LSU also will restrict its allowable recruiting phone calls during the month of September.
LSU already self-imposed reducing its recruiting class this past February from 25 to 23 in-coming student athletes.
The NCAA cited LSU’s cooperation and quick action for avoiding tougher penalties and a lengthier probation period.
LSU’s internal investigation centered on former wide receivers coach McCarthy – who resigned in December 2009 – and Akiem Hicks, a defensive lineman and junior college transfer from California.
Hicks did not play in 2009, his only season on the team. He left LSU after the season. His scholarship was not renewed.
The NCAA and football recruiting violations involved improper telephone contact, transportation and housing involving the former assistant coach and player.
Hicks was living at an off-campus apartment at an inappropriately reduced rate, which apartment complex officials admitted doing for other LSU student athletes in order to at-tract more business, according to LSU’s internal report.
McCarthy made excessive telephone calls to recruits beyond NCAA guidelines and Hicks accepted free transportation, according to LSU. Hicks also received $350 from a football coach not employed by LSU, but who participated in a summer camp at LSU, according to the university report.
An Oct. 27 letter from LSU Chancellor Michael Martin to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive also indicated that LSU determined additional phone calls by non-coaching football staffers to recruits that violated NCAA rules. The report states that such calls mostly involved “routine clerical tasks” and did not give LSU “any significant recruiting advantage.”
An audit of phone records dating back to August 2008 showed 389 phone calls were placed or received by non-coaching staffers and recruits or their families. Another 3,615 calls involved high school administrators or high school coaches, the report states. LSU dubbed the latest phone violations as “inadvertent” in the report.
The calls mostly involved logistical issues, film of recruits, football tickets for high school coaches and other routine matters, according to LSU.

Vitter contributes to Jindal cause

Rather than being miffed that Gov. Bobby Jindal is mimicking his efforts to court conservative candidates, U.S. Sen. David Vitter told supporters Tuesday that he is donating $10,000 to the governor’s new cause.
“I’m hopeful it signals a bolder, more engaged Bobby already,” Vitter, R-La., wrote sup-porters in an email.
Vitter added that he will ensure that his six-year-old Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority coordinates with the Louisiana GOP fundraising efforts that Jindal is backing to create a more conservative Legislature.
The senator also shared a handwritten note that he sent the governor.
“Congrats on your decision to help the Republican Party elect more strong conservatives to the Legislature,” Vitter scrawled on stationary decorated with a drawing of the U.S. Capitol.

Fletcher college in Houma expanding

Fletcher Technical Community College in Houma is moving forward with an expansion with the aid of $2.7 million in federal funds funneled through the state Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit.
The college will use the funds to acquire 38.6 acres of land and build an academic and administration building, making room for the increased enrollment the school is experiencing.
The college’s roster has continued to expand, leading to its largest enrollment last year. College officials say the enrollment now exceeds full capacity.
“The damages from hurricanes Gustav and Ike have left the area served by Fletcher College in greater need of a skilled workforce in order to continue their recovery,” said OCD-DRU interim Executive Director Pat Forbes. “South central Louisiana will need the skilled workforce that Fletcher educates to rebuild their community, both physically and economically. “
Fletcher is a two-year public community college that was established in 1951 on land donated by the Terrebonne Parish School Board. As a result of Gustav and Ike, four buildings at Fletcher sustained damages worth $983,841.
The project is part of the $30 million Economic Revitalization Program, funded with federal Community Development Block Grant funds allocated to Louisiana by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for recovery from Gustav and Ike.