Ferriday Upper has been named one of the “Top Growth” schools in the state, according to a report released last week by the Louisiana Department of Education.

The report also notes that the parish is number six in growth for the English Learners (EL) subgroup.

In the central Louisiana region, Ferriday Upper recorded a 58 percent score for Top Growth in 2018 EL and Math.

Newellton Elementary School in Tensas Parish earned a 60 score for the northern region of the state.

Concordia School Superintendent Whest Shirley said the school system was thrilled last week “when we received the call from the state department that Ferriday Upper Elementary had been named a ‘Top’ Gains school in the state.”

He said: “Betty Marsalis and her staff have done an excellent job of growing their students in both English and Math. We also learned that Concordia Parish ranked No. 6 in growth in the state with our English Learners (EL) subgroup. These are students who come from homes or backgrounds where English is not the primary language used.”

Last week, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) released data demonstrating how students in grades 4-12 are progressing toward fully mastering key concepts and skills in English language arts (ELA) and math year-after-year.

According to LDE, the release marks a significant step in the implementation of the state's plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), in which Louisiana leaders committed to developing a new tool to provide a more comprehensive view of school and school system performance.

The release complements the release of subject-area proficiency rates on LEAP 2025 assessments, and for the first time, will factor into the annual school performance scores that will be published in the Louisiana School Finder later this fall.

"Academic achievement indicates whether students are prepared for the next level of study. Student progress indicates whether students are improving from one year to the next. Together, achievement and progress provide a more complete picture," said State Superintendent John White. "Now the state's accountability system measures not only where students ended up, but how much progress they made to get there."

Measuring Student Progress

According to a LDA’s release on testing last week, Louisiana public schools and school systems are assigned A-F letter grades every year. The letter grades correspond to a scale of school performance scores, which are calculated using student performance metrics, including but not limited to students' state assessment scores.

By 2025, as outlined in the state's ESSA plan, the average A-rated school in Louisiana is one in which students are proficient in literacy and math skills, demonstrated by a score of Mastery or Advanced on state assessments. To ensure students are improving at a rate that will allow them to reach this goal, the state has developed a measurement tool that assigns each student a tailored growth target to meet each year and then tracks how their performance changes over time.

Schools earn an 'A' in the progress measure for students that demonstrate top growth by showing improvement on ELA and math assessments that is on track to Mastery of key skills and content by 8th grade (elementary/middle school) or 10th grade (high school), and/or outperforming other similar students statewide, as measured by Louisiana's value-added model.

The student progress measure will attribute to 25 percent of an elementary or middle school's performance score and 12.5 percent of a high school's performance score. In addition to an overall school performance score and letter grade, schools will earn a letter grade equivalent for student achievement and progress on their annual report card.

2018 Student Progress Results

Based on this measurement, the 2018 student progress results show:

Students are progressing at a faster pace in ELA than in math, mirroring recent subject-area state assessment achievement results. About 48 percent of students statewide demonstrated top growth on ELA assessments, compared to 43 percent on math.

Louisiana is demonstrating the greatest growth with students scoring Basic in the prior year. This is followed closely by the most struggling students, those scoring Approaching Basic or Unsatisfactory in the prior year.

Historically disadvantaged groups of students demonstrated top growth statewide, but accelerated progress is needed to close achievement gaps with peers. For example, 46 percent of assessments across all students demonstrated top growth, while 43 percent of assessments among black students, 45 percent among economically disadvantaged, 46 percent among English learners, and 43 percent among students with disabilities achieved that level. However, because their overall achievement levels are lower, educators must support historically disadvantaged student groups to improve at a faster pace than their peers in order to close achievement gaps.

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