Warren Easton High School leaders have been honored by the state for being tough on teachers.

The high school was one of two in Orleans Parish named by the Louisiana Department of Education last week for having the highest bar for classroom teaching excellence using Compass, the state’s educator-evaluation system.

All the schools on the list were in the state’s top 10 percent in student improvement or overall achievement, and at the same time had 10 percent or fewer of its teachers scoring “highly effective” during classroom observations.

According to the state website, that rubric means that schools like Warren Easton have high standards for classroom teaching quality and those are proving to be effective for students.

“These schools show that we can adopt a higher bar for teaching excellence,” State Superintendent John White said in a news release. “Compass is a tool for improvement. By setting a high bar for educators, these schools give their teachers more room for improvement, which will help their kids achieve even greater things.”

Warren Easton’s success and “high expectations” were the subject of discussion at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“Some schools had very high Compass scores for teachers but then their test scores were low. Whereas we have very high test scores, and our teachers were good, but not stellar,” board Vice President Bobby Delle said.* “We have high expectations of ourselves and our students, and that was a good indication of that.”

The other school in Orleans Parish to be recognized by the state for its Compass scores was Audubon Charter School.

School leaders also talked about how to best encourage community engagement. Member Timolynn Sams said the board would have to come up with a strategy about ways to engage with parents, for example.

“When we as a collective say what that engagement is, we say that to parents and we are clear as a board about what parental engagement looks like,” Sams said. “Sometimes you get parents who are overly engaged and that’s not ideal for the teachers or the students.”

Principal Alexina Medley added that the Parent Teacher Organization was a good way for parents to be involved, and that a board member from Warren Easton used to attend the PTO meetings.

Board member Brenda Christiansen added that the school’s PTO could use “a little polishing” in terms of guidance and governance.

The board agreed to take a survey on ideas for parental engagement, and revisit the topic at the next meeting.

The meeting lasted for approximately an hour.

*Correction: This story originally misquoted Delle’s statement about some teachers being “good, but not stellar.” (Sept. 11, 2013)

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...