‘Simulated’ school performance scores released

The Calcasieu School Board recently released Simulated School Performance Scores regarding the progress of students and schools during the 2020-2021 school year. While the number of instructional days missed after Hurricanes Laura and Delta qualified the district for a waiver that released the district from official ratings, Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus said it was still important to notify the public of how the district fared despite its difficulties for two reasons.

“We did have some successes. The whole state went down. Most categories (for CPSB), though, are still above the state average,” he said.

“And the other thing we want to acknowledge is that though we’re still behind because of all we went through, we have a plan to come back. It’s stressful to try to get kids up to grade level and everybody’s feeling it. But everyone’s committed.”

The simulated data analyzed 2019 performance compared with 2021. Calcasieu’s simulated score went from 81.7 in 2019 to 81.3, a decrease of 0.4 points, while the state average went from 77.1 to 75.3, a decrease of 1.8 points.

The below-average decrease is a signal of the hard-work and dedication of the district, Bruchhaus said, and proof that its hurricane recovery plans worked. “

What we committed to do as soon as we could was get kids back in the buildings even though we had the hurricanes (damage), even if it meant opening one at a time. I think that made a difference.”

Returning to in-person instruction with COVID-19 protocols in place also likely benefited the district, he added.

“Different districts across the state had different types of instruction. A lot of them stayed virtual for most of last year. The state did release some data on their stuff and the kids that stayed virtual for the majority of the year clearly performed substantially worse.”

Several CPSB schools improved between 2019 and 2021, however, a credit to faculty’s commitment to ensuring the success of all students, Bruchhaus said. Improvements include schools that historically have not fared as well compared with other campuses, he noted.

Barbe Elementary, A.M. Barbe High, Combre-Fondel Elementary, DeQuincy Primary, DeQuincy High, Fairview Elementary, Sam Houston High, Iowa High, John J. Johnson Elementary, LaGrange High, LeBlanc Middle, Sulphur High, T.H. Watkins Elementary, Westlake High and DeQuincy Elementary each improved based on the Simulated School Performance Scores. Bruchhaus pointed out that Fairview Elementary, the district’s English as a second language elementary hub, likely saw its gains because of the targeted, “individualized, pointed attention” that ESL students receive from the Fairview’s dedicated staff.

“That group of children are almost on an individual growth plan. They really charted the child and their progress, where they were deficient and really put things in place that were individual to their exact needs,” he said.

High schools went up in many cases. While the improvements are notable, Bruchhaus added that portions of the high school ratings lag behind 2 years and are therefore based partially on students who graduated in 2019. “We understand that next year’s (data) going to be kind of difficult which was when we were shut down. Some kids didn’t take anything. That’s what’s going to be in next year’s scores so that’s (performance) going to level off.”

With historic storms and the novelty of a global pandemic behind the district, Bruchhaus said sights remain ahead focused on bridging learning gaps and fostering academic growth. Extended Response To Intervention, individualized small group or online lessons, at all grade levels are a key point of the growth and recovery plan.

“We’ve historically had people struggle to come to tutoring in the morning or afternoon so during the day is our opportunity. We’ve carved out small group settings and set aside RTI time for kids not at grade level. And the fact that we have the computers now in every child’s hand gives us to option go online throughout the day.”

There are no letter grades attached to the simulated data for 2020-2021 and the district was under no mandate to release the data, Bruchhaus said. “But we released anyway— to highlight the successes and hard work of the teachers going through all of this and to acknowledge that we still have a long way to go. We’re not where we need to be but we’re going to work until we get there.”

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