A drastic decrease in iLEAP state test scores for fifth graders at James Singleton Charter School could have a significant impact on the school’s 2013 school performance score, according to school leaders.

Singleton Principal Debra Robertson addressed the school’s board of directors at its monthly meeting May 21, telling board members that math scores for fifth-graders who took the state’s iLEAP test in March dropped 25 percent over last school year.

Less than 12 percent of fifth-graders at Singleton scored at “basic” or above, Robertson said.

The charter school’s principal attributes the plummeting math scores to a “tumultuous” year with retention of fifth-grade teachers. Several teachers were either terminated or resigned, she said.

Singleton plans to offer summer school to all fifth grade students to catch up on the skills they lost in math throughout the school year, Robertson said.

The school showed gains in English Language Arts for fourth- and eighth-grade LEAP tests, as well as gains in third-graders for both ELA and math, Robertson said.

Asked whether the test scores were high enough to raise the school’s current F letter grade from the state, Robertson said changes in how the state calculates school performance scores will likely have a negative impact on Singleton’s rating.

The state’s new grading system for elementary school performance scores is based 100 percent on LEAP and iLEAP test scores, according to the state Department of Education’s website. The old grading system was based 90 percent on test scores and 10 percent on student attendance.

Middle school performance scores will be graded 95 percent on test scores and 5 percent on the number of students promoted to high school.

The state will use a 150-point scale under the new system and give F grades to schools that score below 50.

The old grading system is based on a 200-point scale and labeled schools scoring below 75 as F schools. Singleton’s current school performance score is 73.6.

In other business, Robertson updated the board on staff changes for the upcoming school year and said 11 teachers will not be returning.

“Some are retiring, but we have a few that just won’t change,” Robertson said. “The teaching quality isn’t there. They’re still doing old school stuff that’s not working.”

The school has applied for a $1.67 million school improvement grant from the state Department of Education, Robertson said. If approved, Singleton must follow the Turnaround Intervention Model, which includes hiring a “turnaround expert,”  implementing a research-based curriculum, and replacing at least 50 percent of the school’s staff.

Robertson said the state education department will award eight school improvement grants statewide.

Heather Miller

Heather Miller is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to The Lens' Charter School Reporting Corps. She is a former staff writer for The Independent in Lafayette, and is now based in New Orleans.