BRAC pleased with public education progress, seeks continued growth


POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 7:00pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 7:04pm

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber's annual education report showed positive signs for school districts around the region.

BRAC considers public education one of its priorities because, "public education is critical to our region's success," said Meg Mahoney, BRAC's Senior VP of Economic Competitiveness. "For companies growing and expanding here, as well as for the workforce that we develop to support all of the companies in this region."

BRAC based its report on performance scores submitted by each school and district to the state, so its findings reflect those in earlier public reports.

All 12 districts in the area saw improvement in their state performance scores. And they all improved at a faster pace than the state average.

"We have a lot of bright spots, with some of the top-performing districts in the state right here in our region," Mahoney said.

"Actually, the rates of growth in the, the positive rates of growth across all of our districts was a great positive surprise."

BRAC's report had lots of praise for the work being done by the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. But graduation rate is one area where it struggled. Only 63 percent of students graduated high school in four years, and that number has not gone up since 2007.

BRAC thinks ideas like school vouchers, charter schools, and tougher teacher evaluations will help in the future.

But too many schools are digging out of deep holes. East Baton Rouge was the only district with a C grade, with the rest either rating as good or bad. The reports claims that the disparity from district to district is the biggest problem we face.

"We still have too many students who are in D and F schools," Mahoney said, "and we want to continue with that growth at a faster pace to try to make sure that we have strong educational options for all students."

Another disappointing result was the difficulty of area students who tried to enroll in magnet schools in East Baton Rouge Parish. BRAC found that 35 percent were turned down, showing a demand that outpaces supply.

Click here to read BRAC's full report.

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