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LEAP scores show growth

Lincoln Parish schools regain pandemic losses during spring testing
Thursday, August 4, 2022
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The Lincoln Parish School District has largely gained back the test-score ground it lost in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scores from Louisiana’s end-of-year LEAP tests were released Wednesday, showing that most of the state saw an upswing in student proficiency in key subjects following a dip attributed to COVID-induced classroom disruptions.

Lincoln Parish saw 37% of its students in grades 3-12 score in the top two categories on their spring LEAP tests. State education leaders say hitting those levels, called “mastery” and “advanced,” means a student has demonstrated proficiency in that year’s content.

That’s three points of growth for Lincoln Parish over last year’s 34%, which outpaces Louisiana’s overall growth from 30% to 31%.

In total, 80% of Louisiana’s school systems improved their mastery rates this year. Only four parishes grew more than Lincoln.

“It’s significant growth compared to everybody in the state, which we were glad to see,” Superintendent Ricky Durrett said. “We’re getting back to where we were, and now hopefully we can move forward.”

Lincoln’s overall mastery rate in grades 3-12 is exactly where it was in 2019, the last testing period before COVID forced school closures in the spring of 2020 and various configurations of alternating days and hybrid learning in 2021.

The entire state showed regression last year in the wake of those disruptions, with Lincoln Parish losing that same 3% it has now regained.

“After the impact of a global pandemic and two of the strongest hurricanes in our state’s history, Louisiana’s students are back on their feet,” State Superintendent Cade Brumley said in a press release.

Mathematics proved to be the greatest struggle during the disrupted years and has been the slowest to recover, whether it be locally, statewide or across the nation.

Lincoln Parish rose 3 points to 36% mastery in math this year after plummeting 7 points in 2021.

It’s the only subject at which students haven’t yet fully caught up to pre-pandemic levels. In English, 47% of local students are scoring at mastery, better than 2019’s 45%.

The same is true for science (31% now, 29% in 2019) and social studies (34% now, 30% in 2019).

Despite the recovery, districts have lost time in hitting their pre-pandemic long-term goals for student success. But Lincoln Parish remains optimistic.

“We wanted to get to 55% mastery and above by 2026,” Chief Academic Officer Dana Talley said. “When we took that big dip, we thought, ‘Oh gosh,” but we want to keep that rigorous goal. If recovery is now bigger and faster than we thought, we can still potentially get close to that goal.”

Among the district’s schools, I.A. Lewis School and Choudrant Elementary lead the pack in mastery growth, rising 6% each. Choudrant High retains its spot at the top of the parish with 59% of its students achieving mastery.

Each school showed growth other than Ruston High, which maintained the same 41% mastery rate as last year.