When the Louisiana Department of Education decided last week to move 10 of 33 schools into the states Recovery School District, officials decided to leave DHS in the hands of the local school board.
“Delhi High School won’t be placed into the state’s Recovery School District,” Richland Parish Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cathy Stockton said.
Delhi High School was one of 33 schools in the state to end up on the list of schools considered for state takeover because it was rated as academically unacceptable for four years in a row on state accountability tests.
However, the school has shown marked improvement for each of those years and was only one point too low on the last round of testing to escape the academically unsatisfactory category. Delhi had a School Performance Score of 59 instead of the 60 required to advance.
“To put this into context, on average, an SPS of 60 or below means that approximately 80 percent of the students in a school are performing below grade level,” Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said. “When the SPS is below 60, the average percentage of students who have fallen behind is even higher.”
A school’s SPS is comprised of several components, including student assessments, attendance and in the case of high schools, graduation rates.
“These SPS scores, which have drawn so many complaints, aren’t just calculations,” Pastorek explained. “These scores represent real children with a valid right and sincere desire to succeed in school.”
However, Stockton pointed out, officials also took into account Delhi’s ongoing improvement and plans to increase that improvement in the future as well as other signs that the schools is doing better than the scores might otherwise indicate.
“When all 12 of the students taking the GEE complete it, that’s a sign of something,” Stockton said. “In addition, two DHS teachers had lessons lessons accepted for publication as Gold Seal lessons with the International Center for Leadership in Education. The school’s leadership team is going to Washington D.C. to get more ideas and we have great confidence in our new interim principal Floyd McDade.”
Under the agreement, Stockton explained the Richland Parish School System will continue to operate Delhi High School in compliance with a plan submitted to the state department of education outlining methods planned to use in improving the school’s performance in the culture.
“Without a doubt, these schools must overcome significant challenges, but there are schools across Louisiana with the same issues that are performing well,” Pastorek said. “Granted, there is no conventional model for school success, but as we seek to identify workable solutions, we are certain of one thing -- we all have to work together and move beyond the criticism, fear and disagreement that have surfaced over the last several months around this debate.”
The recommendations presented follow months of school and district site visits, dialogue with district and school leaders, and both quantitative and qualitative analysis of performance data and trends. But the evaluation process, department leaders said, also required them to consider the capacity of districts and schools to effect significant progress as well as which intervention offered the greatest opportunity for the department to support that progress.
“From the beginning of this deliberation, we have consistently sought to balance the impact of these decisions on all the students, families, teachers and staff served by these districts,” Deputy State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler said. “At the same time, we cannot ignore our responsibility to see to it that the students in these failing schools receive the high-quality education that they deserve. These issues are complex, and we must weigh all possible options.”