Earlier this month, the Louisiana Department of Education released its 2018-2019 school performance scores. Annually, BRAC performs an analysis on the performance of the 13 school districts within the nine-parish Capital RegionThe statewide annual ratings, based on a variety of student achievement metrics, provide parents and community members with insight on the performance of each school and the districts overall within the state. 

BRAC’s 2018-2019 findings:

  • Four Capital Region districts increased their A through F letter grade. Central Community Schools and West Feliciana moved up from (B) districts to (A), while West Baton Rouge and Iberville progressed from (C) districts to (B). 
  • East Baton Rouge’s “Innovation Network” schools saw impressive gains in School Performance Scores. Progress Elementary grew the most, adding over 8 points from 53.4 (D) to 62 (C), followed by Park Forest Elementary which grew over 6 points from 55.5 (D) to 61.9 (C).    
  • Zachary School District remains the top performing school district in the state, receiving 95.9 of 150 possible points (A), followed by Ascension Parish scoring 92.3 (A). 
  • Four Capital Region districts ranked in the top 10 statewide, half of which land in the top five: Zachary 95.9 (A), Ascension 92.3 (A), Central 90.4 (A), and West Feliciana 90.2 (A). 
  • East Baton Rouge, the largest district in the region, increased its score from 65.4 (C) to 69.1 (C), maintaining its letter grade since 2012. 
  • District grade distribution in the Capital Region are: four “A” ratings; three “B” ratings; three “C” ratings; two “D” ratings; and, one “F” rating. 

 

This year’s scores are particularly encouraging when compared to the 2018 dip in scores, which was widely attributed to an increase in standards for schools and districts in the state accountability formulaEleven of the Capital Region’s 13 school districts improved their scores in 2019 bringing the BRAC-calculated Regional Performance Score to 74.5 (C).  

“The Capital Region has embraced BESE’s increase in standards which rewards growth in student achievement, thereby encouraging high-performing schools to avoid stagnation and highlighting improvements at lower-performing schools,” said Nial Patelthe chair of BRAC’s Education and Workforce Issue Council and Senior Vice President at Cornerstone Government Affairs. “The Baton Rouge Area understands the importance of quality schools and what it takes to build the workforce of tomorrow.” 

A Deeper Dive

Taking a closer look at school improvement in the region’s largest school district, East Baton Rouge, the most dramatic improvements can be found within the 14 chronically low-performing schools that are part of the district’s Innovation NetworkThe Network is made up of elementary and high schools that are identified by the state as needing critical intervention for low performance. The intervention is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which mandated every state/district have a plan for identifying and improving these struggling schools. Thirteen of EBR’s Innovation Network schools have seen improvement, with two of the schools gaining enough points to earn a higher letter grade.    

BRAC believes these scores are a testament to East Baton Rouge’s ESSA plan and the leaders who made its implementation a top priority. The Innovation Network schools have benefited greatly from an increase in school leader autonomy, highly rigorous curricula, and strong support from the school board. These changes have resulted in dramatic improvements for students, and BRAC is hopeful that the school board will continue supporting such critical autonomies as they search for a new Superintendent in the near future. 

BRAC is a strong supporter of strong accountability standards for schools, incorporating the cultivation of the region’s talent as a key pillar of its five-year strategic plan. 

Review school and district scores for the region at www.louisianaschools.com. 

Written by Ethan J. Melancon

Ethan J. Melancon is the Policy and Research Project Manager for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. In that role, he serves as the staff lead for all education and workforce development policies and initiatives.