St. Mary Superintendent of Schools Dr. Donald Aguillard told the school board Thursday that Louisiana is writing a grant for a waiver to the No Child Left Behind requirement.
“There are 28 states that intend to submit waiver applications,” he said. “Louisiana is one of those states. “In all likelihood, Louisiana’s application will be approved. When that happens there will be dramatic changes to accountability.”
Aguillard said the state will continue to use letter grades as “a measure of identifying school district success. There will be dramatic changes to how schools will calculate their achievements.”
The state wants to focus entirely on “grade level proficiency,” Aguillard said. “They plan to reduce the focus down to performance and cohort graduation rates…award points only for students who score proficient. They plan to reduce the scale so that it’s a little bit easier for the general public to understand.”
The range of scores is currently from 50-200, and will be adjusted to a maximum point value of 150 and a minimum of 100 to make basic proficiency.
Currently in grades K-5, 90 percent is based on achievement, 10 percent on attendance; in middle school, 90 percent is based on achievement, 5 percent on attendance and 5 percent on drop-out rate.
Aguillard said the proposed new system would be based 100 percent on achievement by the students.
At the high school level, the current system bases 70 percent on End of Course testing and 30 percent on graduation rate.
The proposal is for 50 percent on ACT tests to all students at the high school level, and 50 percent on the cohort graduation rate.
“We’re talking about an entirely new metric,” Aguillard said. “End of course tests will still drive evaluation scores for teachers, but scores for the school and district performance will be judged on ACT tests.”
In grades K-8, the maximum point value in a subject is 150 points for advanced; 125 for mastery and 100 for basic. Anything below is considered 0 points as “approaching basic or unsatisfactory.”
At the high school level there will be a sliding scale for ACT scores of 18-36. Any scores below 18 earn no points for the high school, Aguillard said.
He said a third of the students in Louisiana “are targeted because they score in the unsatisfactory or approaching basic category. The state is going to create a super-subgroup, and schools will be judged on their ability to provide good, effective instruction for that subgroup. So there’ll be a larger subgroup of students failing accountability measures, and schools will be judged on their effectiveness with that group of kids.”
Public comment on the proposal begins Feb. 16. BESE will “likely adopt a form of these recommendations in the summer, with final adoption in August. Full implementation is planned for the 2012-13 school year…we have work to do, and we plan to be ready.”
He said dramatic improvements in the school system have been made over the last several years.
Aguillard also reported that Minimum Foundation Program funding from the state will not increase for employees for the fourth year in a row.
There is also a $7 million cut in the Department of Education budget, Aguillard said, a 15 percent reduction.
He said some $97 million in federal funds is being freed from constraint, meaning “districts will be able to use some of that federal money a little easier, which might soften the loss of funding. I don’t envision that we’re going to get much relief from the relaxation of federal rules.”
In other business Thursday:
—The board authorized a baseball field 20-light, 60-foot tall light pole replacement at West St. Mary High School destroyed by storm winds at a cost of $35,000
—A bid by Bernhard Mechanical Contractors Inc. of Lafayette, for fresh air improvements and fan coil replacements at Franklin Senior High School came in at $736,000, more than the previous cost estimate of $700,000. The board authorized staff to look for reductions to bring down the cost.
—Appointments included Bridgett Madison as a guidance counselor at Franklin Senior High School; Herbert Maverick as Custodian III at Franklin High School; and Brian Lauret as a districtwide HVAC technician.
—Two calendars for the 2012-13 school year were submitted. One was basically the same as the current year. The other starts the school year two days earlier and allows for a “fall break” by having no school Friday, Oct. 12 and Monday, Oct. 15. The calendar with the fall break was adopted.