“As we embark on the 2013 testing sessions, I would like to take a moment to congratulate all stakeholders on the documented accomplishments achieved thus far in St. Mary Parish … The newsletter is designed to highlight St. Mary Parish’s unique characteristics, accountability results and regional data comparisons in the area of public education,” said Superintendent Donald Aguillard via email.
All data in the report reflect the 2011-12 school year, the latest for which complete information is available.
“Upon review, you will notice that the newsletter provides a snapshot of various educational indicators that illustrate district progress and accomplishments. It is comprised of information that will be useful to local businesses for recruiting potential employees, parents as a barometer of educational quality, school staff as a record of critical triumphs and new residents as an orientation to the educational landscape,” Aguillard said.
The parish’s 23 schools achieved a B average for the school district as a whole with a district performance score of 105.2. The parish’s district performance score growth between 2008 and 2012 was 18.8 percent. It began in 2004 with a 79.1 score, well below that year’s state average of 82.9. The state average for 2012 was 100.5, slightly less than five points under St. Mary’s score.
Of the district’s 9,031 students, 48 percent are white, 42 percent black, 7 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian or Pacific Islander and 1 percent Native American or Alaskan Native.
The school system had seven schools recognized as Top Gains Schools, those that attain school performance score gains that meet or exceed predetermined growth targets. There was one school ranked A; nine, B; 9, C; 4, D; and no F schools. The National Center of Educational Achievement recognized four St. Mary schools that promoted student achievement levels at an increased rate of progress in comparison to schools with similar student populations.
Hattie Watts Elementary was named a Blue Ribbon School in 2011, and its principal was a Louisiana State Principal of the Year in 2012.
Sixty-seven percent of the professional staff hold bachelor’s degrees, while the remaining 33 percent hold a master’s degree or higher. There were 29 national board certified teachers employed in 2011-12.
Compared regionally, St. Mary spends the highest amount of money per student at $8,886.09. Its counterparts, which share similar demographic diversity, spend per pupil in Lafourche, $8,455.36; Iberia, $7,812.09; St. Martin, $7,305.63; and Terrebonne, $6,141.56. The expenditure per student data from Assumption Parish was unavailable.
St. Mary Parish had the second highest district performance score in the region at 105.2. It was bettered in the region only by Lafourche which had a 107.3. Others in the region were Terrebonne at 104.6; Iberia, 103.4; Assumption, 102.1; and St. Martin, 95.
Regarding the correlation between district performance scores and per pupil spending, via email, Aguillard said: “The difference is likely related to our focus on small class sizes (more teachers), increased level of support (instructional personnel, curriculum facilitators, program managers, instructional specialists) and more money devoted to professional development and instructional supplies.”
St. Mary Parish also had the lowest number of D schools in the region at 17.4 percent. No regional school district had an F school. Following St. Mary were Terrebonne with 22.2 percent; Lafourche, 24.1 percent; Iberia, 28 percent; Assumption, 30 percent; and St. Martin, 37.5 percent.
When comparing the number of Top Gains Schools, St. Mary tied for second with Lafourche Parish at seven schools each. Terrebonne had 10.
“I genuinely appreciate the contributions made throughout the myriad of transitions in both curriculum and accountability. Our students have greatly benefitted from our cooperative learning community. I have every confidence that academic growth will continue, making St. Mary Parish a premier area to live, work and raise a family,” Aguillard said via email.
The entire newsletter can be viewed at the district website www.stmary.k12.la.us.