Linwood Board President Gard Wayt touted improved LEAP test scores as the impetus for the increase, noting percentages of test improvement convinced the board the education model provided by SABIS, the international education school system that runs Linwood, works.
"Those eighth-graders who have just received their LEAP test results, who have been with us for three years, scored 16 points higher in English Language Arts and 11 points higher in math scores than their counterparts who have been with us only one year," he said.
"We are very proud of our students for their hard work and efforts," Principal Vickie Carroll said.
"They are increasingly taking their work seriously. We are transforming the school's culture, as well as its academic standing."
New students represent about a third of the top class, allowing a valid comparison he said.
He said the increases are despite new sixth-grade students each year coming in with lower test scores than the previous year's sixth-graders.
"Each year, the gap we're dealing with has become bigger," he said.
What that shows, he said, "is there is a value-added component to staying with the SABIS system. We know now that continued engagement in the SABIS system of education produces significant differences in the results."
The system includes biweekly test evaluations and constant monitoring of student performance.
"The SABIS system will not let a child stay behind," he said. "We know every day and every week where every students stands in every subject."
Also, he said, "we are not obliged to keep any teacher who does not get results. That's a big difference. We can thin the herd. "Students also have become more proactive, he said, with the Student Life Department and eighth-graders holding a series of fundraisers this year that allowed a trip to Disney World.
"We're proud of the way they conducted themselves," Wayt said. "There's talk next year of going to New York, to take in some of the plays on Broadway."
Also in the works: expansion of the student clinic at the school, reflecting a partnership with Christus Schumpert Health and a $100,000 federal grant.
The school plans to pursue renewal of its five-year charter and maintains a long-term goal of adding a ninth grade, he said. But now there are other challenges.
The challenge the first year, he said, was discipline. Putting surveillance cameras in hallways helped curtail most problems, he said.
The second year, the problem was attendance. That was solved by developing a bus system for the school that was not dependent on public school buses.
"Right now, the challenge is we are looking for good teachers," he said. Incentives include a more robust 401(k) plan for teachers, base pay of between $40,000 and $45,000 a year and recruitment incentives that include moving expenses to help teachers come from out of state.
For the 2012-13 fiscal year, the school's expected enrollment of 520 students, has resulted in an anticipated budget of $4.64 million, based on $8,929 per student per the Minimum Foundation Plan, Wayt said. "The money follows the child," he said
Efforts to convince students and parents they will benefit from attending the school over a Caddo Parish public school are under way and will continue through the start of the fall session Aug. 13, he said. "We're advertising," he said. "We are putting on community meetings, doing robo-calling and direct mailing. We're doing everything to let people know what results we have and what we offer."
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