Community, educators react to school grades

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 8:55pm

BATON ROUGE, La (FOX44) — After learning that nearly half of Louisiana public schools have received a failing grade, parents and grandparents are seriously concerned. Educators are pushing to improve those scores, but they say, the new grades don't tell the whole story.

East Baton Rouge Parish school officials say the system has come a long way. "In 2003, 2004, we were worried about being a district in crisis," says Lizabeth Frischhertz. "We've decreased that number tremendously."

The system still has plenty of room for improvement. When the new school report cards came out Wednesday, EBR schools earned a D average.

"They don't tell the whole picture," says Frischhertz. "We have a lot of success going on in our schools and we know what success looks like."

Frischhertz says the grading scale might be easier for parents to understand, but it can still create some confusion. "It's based on a number of things," she says. "It's not like a spelling test where its zero to ten and you get nine correct and that's your percent. It's a weighted score."

The scoring scale takes into account graduation and dropout rates, attendance, and test scores, among other things.

Parents and grandparents say a bad grade does make them worry. "It makes me feel terrible," says Shirley Andrews who has grandchildren in the public schools. "It used to be when a child was in school, they were learning."

They blame the low scores across the state on a number of issues, from class size and funding to the teachers working in the classrooms. "I think there are a lot of things that are broken, and you've got to fix them all at once for them to get any better," says Emily McMains, an expecting mother.

However, EBR school officials say its not that easy. They say reform doesn't happen overnight.

"We're looking at programs. We're looking at the people. What makes it work?" says Frischhertz. "Each school is an individual school. It's not just a one-stop-shop."

While she believes change takes time, she's proud of how far the school system has come, and where it's going. "We're hoping that D turns into a C next year," she says.

East Baton Rouge school officials say 87% of their schools showed growth, and they're doing everything they can to improve that trend.


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