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Lafayette Parish School System Retrospective 2017
2017 was ushered in by a Lafayette community still recovering from the historic flooding event of 2016. Despite the adversity the community faced in the fall, Lafayette parish students, teachers, and administrators faced the new year with hope and a determination to carry on. School Board members started the year by selecting Dawn Morris as Board President and Erick Knezek as Vice- President for 2017. Though the system would be plagued again by adverse weather events in the form of Hurricane Harvey in August and winter weather in December, Board members had a particularly productive year in planning construction projects to build school system infrastructure and to secure land for future expansion of the school system as the Lafayette community continues to grow. Under the continued leadership of Dr. Aguillard, the system maintained a solid academic footing, continued to strengthen its partnerships with the community, and made significant strides in providing students with access to technology. Teachers, students, and administrators distinguished themselves by earning numerous recognitions at the local, regional, and national level.
Board Members dedicated significant resources to construction projects designed to update the system’s aging infrastructure, eliminate portable classroom buildings, and to plan for the future growth of the community. The board opened Southside High School in August. Southside is the first new high school to open in 48 years in Lafayette Parish. The board also moved forward with adding a wing to Milton Elementary/Middle School in order to eliminate portable classroom buildings on that campus. The board secured the land for Billeaud Elementary, a new school which will be constructed in Broussard. Work continues at Westside Elementary which is being reconstructed after it was flooded in the 2016 flood event. A new library addition was added at L. Leo. Judice Elementary. Work is underway to air condition 18 gymnasiums at schools across the parish, and the board secured funding to build covered playground areas at elementary schools.
The system experienced a slight dip in overall performance in 2017, posting a District Performance Score of 93.8, a loss of 2.5 points. However, the district also recognized several schools for exemplary growth. Over the past three years, Northside High School grew 23.5 points, going from “F” in 2014 to “C” in 2017. From 2015-2017, Alice Boucher Elementary School grew 17.9 points and moved from a “D” letter grade to a “C.” Duson Elementary School grew 15.4 points over the same period and also moved from a “D” letter grade to a “C.”
2017 marked the first year that students in grades 5-8 completed the LEAP test online. Overall, Lafayette Parish students showed modest improvement in the number of students scoring Mastery and Advanced in ELA, math, and science from 2015-2017. 35% off Lafayette Parish students scored at the Mastery or Advanced level compared to 33% of students statewide.
Continued support and resources have been dedicated to the principals of the district’s emerging schools. The academic initiatives put in place have yielded positive results. Alice Boucher Elementary School showed 6% more students performing at the Mastery and Advanced levels over the past two years if all subjects and grades are combined and exceeded the state gains by 50%.
Most notable were the advances in ELA (7%) and math (8%). Carencro Heights Elementary saw modest gains overall (3%), but the students outdistanced the state average in math with 10% improvement to the state’s 2%. J. W. Faulk Elementary had minor gains in science (1%) but a tremendous surge in ELA (8%) and math (12%) combining for an overall 7% jump.
Because the LEAP 2025 test is now administered in an online environment in grades 5-9, middle school students need more access to the technology they will use for testing throughout the year, so the board approved funding to increase the quantity of Chromebooks at the middle schools and to ensure that all 5th and 9th grade students have access to Chromebooks. This included allocating money to purchase 7,964 Chromebooks, 514 wireless access points, and 23 network servers.
In 2017 Lafayette Parish high school students earned an ACT Composite average of 20.1 up from 20.0 last year. Lafayette Parish ranks in a tie for 13th among districts in the state of Louisiana. Schools worthy of recognition for their composite ACT average are Early College Academy at 24.1, Lafayette High School at 22.5, and David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy at 19.9. Also, worthy of mention were the increases achieved in some of our subgroups. The African American subgroup increased .3 of a point and the Economically Disadvantaged subgroup increased .7 of a point.
Performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams remained strong in 2017. Lafayette Parish administered 1,090 AP exams this year. Passing scores were earned on 487 exams or 44.7% of all AP exams administered. This is nearly 10% higher than the average passing rate statewide of 34%. Further, Lafayette Parish continues to rank among the top 10 districts in the state according to the number of passing exams in 2017. 93 Lafayette Parish students received an AP Scholar Award. These students all earned passing scores on 3 or more AP exams. 3 of these students attended Acadiana High, 1 attended David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy, and 89 attended Lafayette High School.
242 8th grade students completed Algebra 1 in 2017. This is an increase of 170 students earning an Algebra 1 credit from last year. Of those students, 212 or 87.6% earned the highest label of “Excellent” on the state End of Course test. 29 students scored “Good” and only 1 scored “Fair”.
2017 saw numerous administrative appointments. In August, Janine LaFluer was selected as the Social Studies/Physical Education Specialist. In July, Jamilah Hicks was hired as K-5 ELA Specialist. Dr. Aguillad appointed Connie Fontenot as principal of Duson Elementary School; Chad Guillory principal of Paul Breaux Middle School, Venus Soileau principal of Scott Middle School; Alex Melton principal of the Early College Academy; Stephanie Robin as principal of S.J. Montgomery Elementary School; Renee White as principal of N.P. Moss Preparatory School; and Catherine Bricelj principal of Myrtle Place Elementary School.
Teachers and administrators spent a very busy and productive year attending and redelivering professional development. In July, Central Office staff sponsored the Leadership Conference for approximately 300 Principals, Assistant Principals, Instructional Leaders, Central Office and Pupil Appraisal staff. Nationally recognized keynote speakers, Paul Bernabei and Willow Sweeny delivered a message regarding building relationships with students and parents. 150 new teachers took part in the district’s New Teacher Induction program at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy in July. The program included motivational speaker Coach Hudspeth followed by topics regarding human resources, risk management, insurance, academic, and administrative topics. Jump Start teachers attended the Jump Start Super Summer Institute in July at W.D. and Mary Baker Smith Career Center and Carencro High School in order to update or obtain credentials for teaching Jump Start courses. In October, 37 Math teachers attended professional development in July designed to deepen their understanding of math pedagogy. Also, throughout the month of July, teachers and administrators attended professional development on the IO Education and Assessment data and assessment platforms. Principals and Instructional Leaders and Academic District Staff participate in a two-day training on Professional Learning Communities by Joe Cuddemi, a Solution Tree consultant. In October, Academic Specialists and Directors participated in four days of Solution Tree’s training regarding assessments and grading practices.
School system staff proposed several parish-wide program enhancements to the board this year. Charles Burke Elementary School became the first Dual Language Immersion school in the state of Louisiana, offering Dual Language Immersion in Spanish to pre-k and kindergarten students. The board approved adding a pre-k Immersion at Prairie Elementary and Evangeline Elementary. The school system opened the Edward J. Sam Accelerated School of Lafayette, designed to serve non- traditional students. The system’s Magnet Academies (formerly Schools of Choice) underwent numerous changes. Aside from the name change, the board approved an annual third party audit of the application and selection process. The board also authorized the superintendent to recommend additional Magnet school sites based on an evaluation of need, feasibility, financial impact, and transportation requirements. Program expansions included establishing a business pathway at Judice Middle School and Acadiana High School; a Health Careers pathway at Carencro Middle School, Northside High School, and Lafayette High School; a Performing Arts pathway at J. Wallace James Elementary School, L.J. Alleman Middle School, and Comeaux High School; a French Language pathway at Evangeline Elementary, Myrtle Place Elementary, Prairie Elementary, Paul Breaux Middle School, and Lafayette High School; a Spanish Language pathway at Alice Boucher Elementary, Charles Burke Elementary, Paul Breaux Middle School, and Lafayette High School. The Fast ForWord program was expanded to include Green T. Lindon Elementary, Prairie Elementary, Katharine Drexel Elementary, and Edward J Sam Accelerated School of Lafayette.
In fall of 2017 the school system implemented its re-zoning plan to balance the district’s attendance zones to make better use of under-utilized facilities and to provide relief for severely over-crowded schools. The school system also optimized bus routes creating satellite stops for student in the Magnet Academy program.
2017 was a year in which the school system strengthened its many partnerships with the community. In partnership with UL Lafayette, the system hosted its 4th Advanced Placement Summer Institute to provide training for AP teachers from across the region. The system partnered with the McComb-Veasey Neighborhood Coterie to provide a community garden at the Vermilion Conference Center. The Magnet Academies Program was awarded 114 Samsung Galaxy tablets through the National Academy Foundation and its corporate partner the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation. Courtesy Lincoln sponsored the Lincoln Driven to Give program for L.J. Alleman Middle, raising over $4,000 for the school. A private donation of over $200,000 will provide Capturing Kids Hearts training for Northside High School, Carencro High School, Alice Boucher Elementary School, and J.W. Faulk Elementary School. The system was awarded a FACE Foundation French Dual Language Fund grant of $13,000 which will be used for funding the certification of a French teacher for students in the Gifted program, the development of a multi-school French choir, and new French books for libraries. The Acadiana Open Channel partnered with the school system during Media Literacy Week in order to highlight the importance of teaching children and teens digital and media literacy skills to ensure their interactions with media are positive and enriching. The school system also raised $30,000 for its Superintendent’s Golf Tournament Scholarship program. Many of the donations for the scholarship came from the local business community.
Students, teachers, and staff also gave back to the community this year. The system contributed $17,112.25 to the United Way of Acadiana’s Bucket Brigade. $21,251.76 was collected and sent to the United Way to provide relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Lafayette Parish schools also donated $1,700 to the Friends of Miles Perret Cancer Center.
Graduates from Lafayette Parish School System class of 2017 were offered over $28 million in scholarships with a total of 1,805 graduates from 7 high schools. 1,134 were Core 4 graduates, 311were Basic Core graduates, 82 graduated with a Career Diploma, 40 graduated from the
Lafayette Online Academy, 17 earned a TOPS University diploma, 50 earned Jump Start diplomas, and 38 earned a High School Equivalency Diploma. Lafayette Parish students also distinguished themselves by participating in the Million Word Reader Challenge. Over 21,000 students participated with 934 students reading over a million words. Altogether, 5,635,241,422 words were read by participating students.
School system employees also distinguished themselves in 2017. GEAR UP project director, Traci Aucoin, was named the Leukemia & Lymphoma Woman of the Year and was selected as a recipient of the Lafayette Commission on the Needs of Women Excellence Award for Public Service. In March, Kimberlyn Slagle was the first teacher in Louisiana to be named to the ELA SpringBoard National Faculty. Sarah Gros, teacher at J. W. Faulk Elementary School, was recognized at the 11th Annual Cecil Picard Educator Excellence Awards Gala in Baton Rouge as a Louisiana Teacher of the Year Finalist. The Louisiana Educator Voice Fellowship selected Robin Olivier, Director of Career and Technical Education and Traci Aucoin, Director of GEAR UP, as 21st Century Fellows. World Language Immersion Specialist Tia LeBrun and Principal of Plantation, Anne Herrmann were selected by the College Board to participate in the Chinese Bridge Delegation to China. The trip will provide an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of Chinese customs and the culture as well as an opportunity to hear fluent Mandarin Chinese language. Edgar Martin Middle School Math Teacher, Angie Boxie, was the recipient of the Milken Educator Award. The award is given to an outstanding educator that is selected through a confidential process and reviewed by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the state department of education. The recommendations are then approved by the Milken Family Foundation. The award includes a monetary reward of $25,000 unrestricted funds for Ms. Boxie. 548 LPSS teachers were pinned as part of the Lafayette Education Foundation Teacher Awards. The LPSS finalists were Becky Cade from J. Wallace James Elementary, Catherine Hartweck from J.W. Faulk Elementary, Courtney Vincent from Broadmoor Elementary, Karl Comeaux from Edgar Martin Middle School, Rignault Henderson from Paul Breaux Middle School, John Broussard from Acadiana High School, Nicholas Credeur from Lafayette High School, Philip Ryland from Acadiana High School, Jacob Simon from Comeaux High School, Dana Rivera from Broadmoor Elementary School, and Chad Viator from the Talented program.
Despite a slight overall decline in district performance in 2017, several of the district’s most challenged schools made impressive gains over the course of the past 2 to 3 years, and performance on several individual measures such as Advanced Placement exams, the ACT, and 8th grade Algebra I improved. District leadership and school board made strategic decisions about providing infrastructure for the future growth of the Lafayette community. The school system deepened its partnerships with the community, and teachers and administrators distinguished themselves professionally.
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