Ascension schools earn State's Top 'A' Grade

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Ascension Parish School System earned an "A" grade from the State Department of Education after moving its district score up nearly 12 points to 121.2 points overall and earning a top-tier No. 7 ranking, according to the latest school performance report released today.

At the same time, nine of the district's 27 schools earned "A" grades, including Dutchtown High School, Dutchtown Primary, Dutchtown Middle School, East Ascension High School, Galvez Primary, Oak Grove Primary, Prairieville Primary, Prairieville Middle School and St. Amant High School.

The district's school with the highest gains was Donaldsonville High School which improved 26.9 points – up from 91 points to 117.9 points – to earn a "B" grade. Ascension's other three high schools also exceeded their growth targets and improved their scores beyond the 120-point mark to earn an "A" grade. Dutchtown High School gained 18.2 points to claim the district's highest score of 153 points. East Ascension High School grew 12.2 points to post 127.3 points overall and St. Amant High School grew 4 points reaching 145.9 points.

"To say that we are pleased is beyond words, as our teachers and administrators have worked tirelessly to raise the bar for all students and their work has reaped major results," said Ascension Parish School Superintendent Patrice Pujol.

Schools showing the greatest growth and performance in one year were Donaldsonville High School, up 26.9 points; Dutchtown High, up 18.2 points; St. Amant Primary, up 12.7 points; Dutchtown Primary School up 12.4 points; East Ascension High School, up 12.2 points; Spanish Lake Primary, up 11.9 points and Pecan Grove Primary 11.7. Nine other schools had significant gains meeting their growth targets for the 2011-2012 school year.

Pujol noted that tremendous gains were made among the district's high schools, which have incorporated freshman academies and begun offering more school-to-career options and dual-credit programs.

Pujol credited part of the growth to the district's Turnaround Zone Program, which is designed to target those schools that need academic assistance with a distinctive rigorous plan for improvement and advancement. The state report showed those schools enjoyed gains: Donaldsonville High improved 26.9, Pecan Grove Primary School improved 11.7 points; Gonzales Middle School was up 7.3 points; Lowery Elementary School grew 5.5 points; G. W. Carver Primary improved 4.4 points; and Lowery Middle School saw a 1 point gain. Only two schools in the Turnaround Zone did not show growth, Donaldsonville Primary and Gonzales Primary. "We have made significant changes to address these issues this school year," Pujol said.

Pujol said the district also has implemented a new Magnet Program at Donaldsonville High, Lowery Middle, Lowery Elementary and Donaldsonville Primary to enhance academic performance at those schools.

Pujol attributed the overall growth of the district to the focus on implementing higher standards for teaching and learning through teachers and leaders collaborating in professional learning communities. Such practices as incorporating common core state standards, tracking student progress on rigorous common assessments, intervening with students who are struggling, and enriching with those who are not result in higher levels of student achievement for all students.