Avoyelles Parish Schools rank number one in growth

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AVOYELLES PARISH, La. (KALB) - Over the last two years, Marksville Elementary has been named a "Top Gains School".

"We are a big family here, so we all support one another," said Marksville Elementary teacher Lisa Laborde. "We are big on that rigor and getting the students where they need to be."

This means every demographic and program in the school showed progress.

"It's an awesome faculty that works really hard," said former Marksville Elementary Principal Dawn Pitre. "They have the belief, we do what's best for kids day in and day out."

While the district maintained a "C" letter grade, up from a "D" three years ago, the elementary school is just one of many that helped Avoyelles Parish rank number one in the growth category.

"When you combine the growth we've made over the last three years, we lead the state," said Superintendent Blaine Dauzat. "We are quite proud of that."

When the state crunched school performance scores across Louisiana, using the old formula, it shows Avoyelles Parish leading the way in overall growth. From 2015- 2018 they increased that score 18.8 points.

"You can't argue with the data," Dauzat said. "People like to focus on the negative. The narrative is that we are doing things so poorly and our public schools are broken, and it is just not true."

Marksville Elementary's Principal Nicole Gagnard said the entire parish has a part in this success.

"The community as a whole from our students to their parents, grandparents, they have really been so supportive of us," Gagnard said. "So, just to see that support, that drives my teachers even harder each day to go into their classrooms and actually spend the time necessary."

However, they want to keep going. New school board member Aimee Dupy is pushing for more.

"I will never be happy until all of our schools are 'A's'," Dupy said. "I am a realist. I know that takes time, but I know it is possible. These kids are teachable and we have to step up and do what we need to do to make our community better."

However, Dauzat said this shows their increase in rigor and high expectations are paying off.

"I mean how often do we get to say we are number one in the state in any statistical category," Dauzat said. "This is a big sign that we are doing what's right. We are doing what's best for the kids and they are learning at a quicker pace than anywhere else."

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