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Jeff Davis teachers continue to undergo extensive training

Last Modified: Wednesday, August 06, 2014 1:03 PM

Special to the American Press

On Friday, Aug. 8, students in Jeff Davis Parish will return to school. As Louisiana educational leaders determine what will occur with Common Core and PARCC, teachers and staff continue to undergo extensive training.

Over 6,000 students finished the 2013-2014 year, with every school being accredited by AdvancEd. Jeff Davis Parish readies for reaccreditation in January and continues to be one of the few districts in Louisiana to achieve this distinction.

All preschool students in Jeff Davis who wish to attend pre-K classes are accommodated by parish schools at no cost to parents. A multisensory phonics program is a cornerstone of the elementary curriculum. The new math series implemented last year in grades K-8 is highly aligned to the rigorous standards our schools are working to attain. These books are consumable, helping save money and allowing for a yearly update to keep the system abreast of changing standards.

Increased bandwidth and technology will be evident in the schools this year. Jeff Davis Parish added VDI Labs in all schools to ensure that students can take online state assessments as they are determined.

A $1.5 million literacy grant continues to be in place in the Jennings schools this year, with continued emphasis on increasing literacy skill development among those students most in need of additional support.

Jeff Davis continues to be in or near the top 10 in the state in students on grade level, in graduation index, in cohort graduation rate, in the overall district performance score, and in the percentage of schools ranked A or B in the state.

Last year the School Board paid for tuition and books for nearly 100 seniors who took over 250 college classes with McNeese, saving parents of those students more than 10 percent of the cost of a college education. Jeff Davis also expanded its career offerings with a pipefitting course in conjunction with ABC.

With changes that have been instituted by the Department of Education for the next four years the system is working diligently to reinvent what the schools offer and when. Changes to the diplomas that students earn in four years will be substantial, so the school system has begun implementing college and career course opportunities this year to allow students to achieve success as these changes occur. As part of the supplemental course allocation for the 2014-2015 school year the school system is working with McNeese, Sowela and ABC to expand and improve the opportunities students have to be college and career ready.

Teachers statewide in grades 3-9 who teach math, English language arts, science and social studies will continue to be evaluated based on the value-added model score. However, this evaluation system has been postponed until decisions are made.

This score is based solely on a student’s growth from one year to the next and is used in addition to teacher observations to provide teachers with an overall evaluation each year. School officials pledge to continue to have a dialogue with parents about their children’s educational growth, saying it is no longer sufficient to be on grade level — it is imperative that teachers have students perform at the highest levels possible, so growth or lack of growth is a true picture of what the teacher has taught and what the student has learned.

Officials said the Jeff Davis schools faculty and staff are entering the 2014-15 year with “can do” attitudes regarding the changes schools across Louisiana are experiencing.

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