By T. Scott Boatright
Students always want to make the best grades they can in school and continue making progress.
The same goes for schools themselves.
Lincoln Parish schools made the grade as the top district in northeast Louisiana with a score of 89.3 according to the Louisiana Department of Education’s performance scores and letter grades for the state’s school systems over the past year.
Those scores were released on Wednesday.
Lincoln Parish Schools Superintendent Ricky Durrett said continued progress was good to see, especially in light of what area students have faced in recent years.
“We’re proud of the great work that all of the teachers and students at all of our schools have done through the two-plus years of COVID,” Durrett said. “To still be ahead of where we were back in 2019 is a great accomplishment for all of them.
“Just thinking about all of the school that we missed and the people who have been out, whether it was teachers or students, and all of the subs who came in and helped us great through all of that — it’s just pretty incredible that we got through it and were still able to have school and all of that. I’m just proud of our whole district and the community that supported us through it all. But glad to be out of it for sure.”
Choudrant High School (107.7) had the parish’s top 2022 high school performance scores, while AE Phillips had the parish’s top overall scores (114.2)
“I think they’ve got a great thing going,” Durrett said about the Choudrant scores. “They’ve got a lot of pride in what they’re doing at Choudrant at the elementary up to high school level. The kids are working hard and supporting each other, and that can be seen in their test scores.”
AEP saw an increase in its scores from 105.6 in 2019 to 107.7 in 2021 to 114.2 in 2022.
“We are proud of AE Phillips and their growth over the past two years,” said Durrett. “That’s a testament to Dr. Jenny Blalock’s leadership and the hard work the students and parents have put in.”
Lincoln Parish was recognized in the Top 10 for District Performance scores, ranking ninth.
Five Lincoln Parish schools were recognized as a Top Gains Honoree (Ruston High, Choudrant High, Ruston Elementary, Choudrant Elementary and AE Phillips), meaning they were recognized for having an A in Student Growth.
Three Lincoln Parish schools were recognized as Opportunity Honorees (RHS, CHS, AEP), meaning they were recognized for being in the top 10% for performance among students with disabilities (RHS, CHS), English learners, or economically-disadvantaged students (RHS, CHS, AEP).
Ruston High had the other A (102) among parish schools while Choudrant Elementary (89.3), Simsboro High (86.5), Glen View Elementary (75.5) and Hillcrest Elementary (75.4) all achieved B grades.
Earning C scores were Cypress Springs Elementary (73.3), Ruston Elementary (73.3), Ruston Junior High (70.6), Dubach (65.7) and I.A. Lewis (64.5).
Louisiana’s statewide performance score increased 1.8 points while the Lincoln Parish performance score increased 2.7 points, and elementary/middle schools in Louisiana improved their SPS by 3.0 points on average while Lincoln Parish elementary/middle schools improved their SPS by 5.7 on average.
Lincoln Parish schools showed improvement in 83.0 percent of its schools, compared to 62.8% statewide.
“Our elementary schools in Ruston have all improved and are moving in a positive direction,” Durrett said. “Some have seen five-, six- or seven-point growths over the past several years and I think that’s a big step forward and shows that we’re doing things right to show that much improvement.”
Looking for continued progress, Durrett identified the biggest challenge facing parish schools today.
“Just making sure we’re getting everybody back in school every day,” Durrett said. “I think we kind of got in the habit of missing some and taking some days off.
“We did find out during COVID that being in school with a teacher is the best way to learn. So we’re challenging our parents to get their kids to school every day. Of course there’s going to be times when students are sick, and we know that, but other than that it’s crucial to get them in class every day and get them back into the routine of having school.”