LEESVILLE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Education released its district and school performance scores Nov. 8. Vernon Parish School District received an "A" school district rating, ranking fifth in the state under the former scoring guidelines, and a "B" school district rating under the new statewide scoring formula implemented this year, ranking seventh.
"We are very proud of our student achievement in Vernon Parish Schools," said James Williams, Vernon Parish School District superintendent.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) required the state to adjust how districts and schools are evaluated to include a student growth score. Because this is the first year under the new baseline, districts and schools received two scores under this new revamped system. One using the previous formula and one using the new baseline formula.
VPSD adapted to the new scoring system successfully, also being ranked as the third highest public-school system in the state. The two public school districts ahead of Vernon Parish were Ascension and West Feliciana.
The district was also able to improve its district performance score under the old scoring formula by 1.8 points with 109.7, compared to last year's score of 107.9. There are only 1.7 points between Vernon Parish and the second highest district overall in the state, and 5.5 points between Vernon Parish and the number one district, which is a pull-out district. Vernon Parish is 16.7 points above the State.
Under the new baseline scores, Vernon Parish also saw improvement. If the baseline formula had been used for last year's scores, Vernon Parish would have had an 87.7, and this year Vernon Parish had an 88.9. This is a growth of 1.2 points. The district is 12.8 points above the state average.
The public-school districts ahead of VPSD are Ascension, Lafourche, Vermillion, Plaquemines, and West Feliciana. There are only 4.6 points between Vernon Parish and the top district which is a pull-out district. And VPSD is on 2.3 points behind the highest performing public-school district.
Vernon Parish has an "A" rating on 4 of the 5 indices under the new baseline scoring criteria. No other district ranking higher received those scores.
Additionally, VPSD received the second highest American College Testing (ACT) index in Louisiana.
"We are also very excited about our improvements and growth," Williams said. "This improvement is an ongoing process that our students, teachers and administrators work very hard to achieve each day. We will continue to strive to work hard and be the best that we can be, so our students will be afforded an excellent education."
Fort Polk Progress President Michael Reese attributed these improved scores and successful adoption to the new accountability testing scoring system to VPSD's emphasis on quality education.
"The schools in Vernon Parish serve many military-connected students from Fort Polk, with parents focused on ensuring their kids receive a good education," Reese said. "These improved and high scores -- under both the old and new scoring formats -- show that this district is making academic achievement a priority for its students, both military and civilian."
Top Gains Schools -- or those earning the equivalent to an "A" letter grade on the progress index -- included 11 of 16 Vernon Parish schools: Anacoco Elementary School, Anacoco High School, Evans High School, Hicks High School, Hornbeck High School, Leesville High School, Pickering Elementary School, Pitkin High School, Rosepine Elementary School, Rosepine High School and Simpson High School.
Equity Honorees - or schools with subgroup scores in English Language Learners, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged are in the 90th percentile - include five schools: Anacoco High School, Hornbeck High School, Pickering Elementary School, Pitkin High School and Rosepine High School.
Williams detailed efforts to keep improving academic achievement at Vernon Parish schools.
"We have identified areas that need improvement at each school on each grade level and have already implemented improvement plans and action plans to address any and all deficiencies," Williams said. "
We are committed to our children and to their needs to assure this opportunity for all students. We recognize and appreciate all of the help and support from our parents, teachers, administrators and board members that work together to make our continuously upward progress in education become a reality for all."