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January 14, 2004, Extra Credit
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January 14, 2004
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In St. Tammany Parish, La.: "Intensified ... Efforts with Special Education Students" Make a "Tremendous Difference"

Following are excerpts from an article in today's New Orleans Times-Picayune:

"Scores for black, poor and special education students in the 2002-03 year improved at most St. Tammany Parish schools, according to data released recently from the Louisiana Department of Education's accountability process."

"Most St. Tammany schools had six distinct subgroups, including black and white students, students whose lunch is paid or reduced and those who pay full price, and special education and regular education students. A subgroup must have at least 10 students for the score to be counted."

"Scores are based primarily on assessment tests, with attendance and dropouts rates figuring in slightly. The No Child Left Behind federal legislation, which seeks to raise subgroup scores, figured into the accountability process for the first time in these scores, and all St. Tammany schools passed requirements.

"'We were pleased (overall),' said Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Margo Guillot. 'We knew we had some areas that were problematic. We're addressing that in the best way we know, which is targeting content enhancement and routines that will help the kids.'

"Guillot said the system intensified its efforts with special education students three years ago as the Louisiana accountability process began. They have instituted several programs that have made a tremendous difference in pulling up special education scores, she said.

"The gap between special and regular education students shrank at 23 of the 45 schools where the subgroup score was applicable. And special education students at 28 schools in the parish improved their school performance score from last year.

"'We wanted to raise expectations for special education students,' Guillot said. 'We knew we had a problem with special ed. So we put in place some programs to help them improve. For instance, if a child has a problem with math, we give him or her (two classes) of math. And we try to narrow the focus on the problem area.'"

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