John McDonogh Senior High School’s preliminary school performance score for the 2012-13 school year is calculated to be about 9.3 out of 150, according to an official associated with the school.

An “F” is given to established charters schools  that receive a score of 50 or below. However, any school that is in its first two years of operation — as is the case with John McDonogh — receives a “T,” rather than a traditional letter grade.

“I think we all agree that we need to do better, and that’s what we’re focused on this year,” chief operating officer Chris Lozier said at a board meeting Tuesday night.

John McDonogh is one of four New Orleans schools with a single-digit preliminary school performance score. The NET Charter High School also has a preliminary score of 9.3. ReNEW Accelerated High School’s West Bank campus has a preliminary score of 2, while ReNEW Accelerated High School’s City Park campus has a preliminary score of 6.1.

The NET school and the two ReNEW schools are alternative schools, which means their students often have  a special set of circumstances or needs that prevent them from attending conventional  schools.

Final performance scores won’t be released until October.

Lozier presented the preliminary numbers to Future Is Now: New Orleans, the board that directly oversees John McDonogh. During the meeting, Lozier added that the scoring process is different for turnaround schools, and that the metrics negatively affected the school’s score.

Since John McDonogh is a turnaround — Future Is Now: New Orleans started operating  the school last year — the score does not factor in the school’s graduation rates. Had the school factored in the 2012 cohort graduation rates and the 2012 graduation rate, the score would likely be in the 30-50 range, Lozier added.

The other two metrics used for calculating the score are 2013 ACT scores and 2013 End-of-Course scores. Any ACT score below 18 receives zero points for the school, and schools receive zero points for scores of “Fair” or below on the end-of-course metric.

“Regardless of which metrics we use, we want to get better at all four of them,” Lozier said in an interview with The Lens after the meeting.

During the meeting, John McDonogh Principal Marvin Thompson spent most of his time talking about ways in which the school planned to instill remediation programs for students who come to the school already performing several grades behind.

“When we talk broadly about performance numbers and data there is a danger in it because there’s so many underlying layers,” Thompson said.

“Multiplication is taught in the third grade, and when I’m looking at a ninth grader who can’t do algebra because he can’t multiply, that’s not my algebra teacher’s fault,” he added. “It’s her issue, but it’s not her fault.”

The first step to improvement, Thompson said, is to evaluate the students several times a year to find out what skills they’re missing, then implement remediation programs specifically tailored to improving students’ skills so they can rise to current reading and math levels.

“We’ve got to break those things out for them,” Thompson said.

Academically, officials will focus on pretesting the students in math and English to find out how they should spend remediation time and more rigorous ACT prep classes, Thompson said. He added that officials have dedicated time to the school day just to focus on remediation classes.

Some other policies discussed include strict tardiness and attendance policies, holding students accountable for conduct policies and better support systems that involve parental input.

Angela Kinlaw, the school’s new ninth grade principal, said she was providing several of those support systems for the incoming freshmen in an attempt to make them want to learn and stay in school.

“The expectation level is increasing, but it’s really important that you put in the interventions and support systems to help students achieve those expectations,” Kinlaw said.

“You can really intervene within a year’s time frame and see a great difference when you do that kind of intervention work,” she said

In other news, Thompson said the school met its enrollment goal of 370 students. The board voted to elect member Charles Fenet as secretary and John Hope as treasurer.

The board also amended bylaws to allow members to meet once every other month. The next board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 10:30 a.m.

Board members Clarence Robinson, John Hope, Vaughn Fauria and Judith Dangerfield were present. Board member Kenneth Gill was absent, as was Future Is Now Schools Chief Executive Officer Steve Barr.

Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative...