Ascension Parish Schools earn top progress index score in Louisiana

Staff Report
Shown in a file photo is the Ascension Parish School Board office in Donaldsonville.

Ascension Parish Public Schools earned a Progress Index of 101.1, which was the highest in Louisiana.

The index presents the gains students made in a year, compared to performance in the previous year. 

"I know we would all agree that we want students to achieve Mastery but even more important is that students are progressing on a path toward achieving Mastery," Superintendent David Alexander stated in a letter. "A big congratulations to our students (and the parents/guardians who support them) for putting in the work whether it was in-person, virtual, or a combination of both."

He added that students were resilient and prioritized learning over the last school year, while navigating COVID-19 prevention measures, quarantines, and frequently changing health guidelines.

The Louisiana Department of Education released several data pieces connected to statewide district and school performance for the 2020-21 school year.

The academic performance data provides insight into the work educators have been doing to support ongoing academic growth for students.

"It is very important information, and we are grateful for this insight and grateful that we had 99.5 percent of our students who participated in testing last year to generate this data. Although this information does not define our students, nor does it define the commitment of our teachers and staff, it is very important data that informs our work by affirming successes and bringing to our attention opportunities for continued improvement," Alexander stated.

This year, the state has not assigned letter grades to performance scores. 

Ascension Parish earned a score of 91, which was slightly down from 92.3 in 2019. It is still in the range of an A as earned in previous years.

Ascension Parishwas one of just five districts in Louisiana to achieve a score at or above 90.

"I cannot applaud loud enough the hard work and dedication of our classroom teachers. They gave it their all as we can always depend on them to do! They learned new ways to use technology while providing high-quality learning experiences for our students each day, and they balanced in-person and virtual classrooms while helping students grow and close gaps. We asked a lot of them, and they delivered. And, we also recognize the tremendous support received from the outstanding instructional leaders at both the building and district levels - our Principals, Associate and Assistant Principals, district Supervisors, and Directors," Alexander stated.

He also praised the efforts of the support staff that surrounds the classroom.

"A special thank you to our technology team, facility staff who clean and disinfect our classrooms and buildings, nurses who helped us remain open and safe during these health challenges, clerical staff, school counselors that support the emotional well-being of students, food services, transportation services, supply chain, maintenance teams, as well as administrative support from human resources, our business services, and our public information efforts. We are grateful that all of our employees come to work each day to support our mission of providing high-quality education for an ever-changing world because we know that educating the next generation is everyone's responsibility," he stated.

Some additional highlights of the data release are that 25 schools earned "Top Gains" designations, which reflects high marks in student academic growth. Also, 12 of the district's 30 schools also earned the state's "Equity Honoree" designation. That means they outperformed 90 percent of all schools across the various student subgroups: Black/African American, Economically Disadvantaged, English Learners, and Students with Disabilities.

For a complete listing of school and district scores, visit www.louisianabelieves.com or www.louisianaschools.com.

"We do acknowledge that we experienced some areas of decline that we will be working diligently and intentionally to resolve quickly as those declines represent students who need continued support to overcome challenges and achievement gaps. Unfortunately, overall declines were a statewide and national trend, but we are committed to ensuring the success of every child," Alexander stated.

He concluded by pointing out that everyone involved deserves a "pat on the back, especially the families of those who surround and support students."

"They say it takes a village, but we believe it takes a community that prioritizes education and supports its local public school system to continue to achieve at high levels despite adversity, challenges, and obstacles. Thank you all for your encouragement, your support, and your partnership," he stated.