Students at desk - test

A primary factor for any school deemed “persistently struggling,” is academic performance on high-stakes testing.

In an effort to improve school performance and culture, officials with Lake Charles College Prep will partner with Talent Development Secondary, an educational nonprofit group based on research from Johns Hopkins University.

“The TDS model has worked very well throughout the state and all over the U.S.,” said Sabrah Kingham, education director for the Southwest Louisiana Charter Foundation.

“I know we’ve done a lot better already. But this model with TDS is more targeted. It’s more systematic. It encompasses the whole child and the whole school.”

A primary factor for any school like LCCP, which was deemed “persistently struggling,” is academic performance on high-stakes testing. But Kingham said the school won’t focus solely on academics in its turnaround initiative.

“Improving academically, of course, is the most important thing,” she said. “But there are some underlying issues that cause those things (low performance) like attendance, behavior/discipline and culture. ... With a turnaround model you have to turn everything around.”

Kingham said that improving school culture is particularly important to LCCP because “students come from every corner of Southwest Louisiana. So it can be hard to acclimate. They must build relationships very quickly.”

Jennifer Zeringue, a former TDS consultant who was recently appointed assistant principal of academics at LCCP, has been assigned to work with the school to implement the model.

“Research proves attendance, behavior and course performance are the greatest predictors of future success, not test scores or any other data points,” Zeringue said.

One feature of TDS is its early warning systems, which will require faculty to note and intervene on behalf of students who are showing a negative trend in their attendance, behavior and academic performance.

Instead of “waiting until every quarter to really look at kids or waiting for every diagnostic test” to track performance, Zeringue said, the school will use “real-time data” to track students’ performance weekly. 

The early warning systems have a “statistically significant impact when you reorganize how teachers look at data and put in interventions based on our model,” Zeringue said. “They show a significant difference in the ability to raise students and student achievement.”

Education Reporter

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