Dear Community Members,
I wanted to take a moment to speak to you about the upcoming school year. We are so excited about the 23-24 school year and believe that it will be our best year yet. NPSB has two driving principles. 1) Student learning is our highest priority, and 2) Student safety is our greatest responsibility. These two principles guide all our decision making, ensuring students learn and are safe while doing so.
There are many reasons to be excited about this upcoming school year, but I believe the most exciting thing going on in Natchitoches is our academic growth. Over the past 2 years we have outpaced the state and nearly every other school district in academic growth. For the past 2 years we have been in the top 10 in proficiency growth, making us only one of only five districts to be honored in back-to-back years. We hope to be the only district to make it three years in a row! Not only are we seeing proficiency growth on our annual LEAP assessments, but we are also seeing significant improvement in K-3 literacy rates. This past year we nearly doubled the district’s literacy rate meaning that nearly 70% of all students are reading on grade level by the end of their third-grade year. This is extremely exciting, but we are holding off on celebrating until that number is 100%.
Our high schools are also able to boast. NPSB high schools have seen growth in their graduation rates, ACT scores, AP credit attainment, Dual enrollment credentials and much more. Every year NPSB students are gaining increased numbers of college credit and industry-based credentials and our first student obtained their associate degree this past year. Furthermore, there are more options for our students on a career track. There are now several opportunities for seniors to graduate and enter the work force with a high paying job with one of our several industry partners.
Not only are our students great but so are our teachers. We continue to increase our certification rate and our teacher’s collective efficacy continues to improve through weekly collaboration with our instructional specialists. Our teachers are in a constant state of reflection and study research based best practices to increase student progress. Their hard work, both inside and outside the classroom is why we are experiencing so much growth district wide.
I can also tell you that based on training, technology, and planning I believe Natchitoches Parish schools are the safest they have ever been. All teachers are trained annually in emergency drills, and we have also invested in software that makes collaboration with law enforcement in the case of emergencies easier and more streamlined. Furthermore, through our partnerships with the Sheriffs Department, City Police and GOHSEP we evaluate our schools and plan strategically on how to best keep our students and staff safe. There is nothing in my job more sacred than the responsibility of ensuring your child’s safety every day.
As we start the school year, we are contending with what we hope is a minor inconvenience.
The construction on the bypass will inevitably impact traffic patterns across the city. The contractors have ensured us that they will be complete with the portion of the bypass ending at BPCC within 2 weeks of the start of school. While that construction is still ongoing, we encourage parents to leave 10-15 minutes earlier than normal and utilize the Parc Natchitoches cut through. I have instructed principals to give grace for the first week as we navigate the unknown and become acclimated to morning traffic patterns.
I want you to know that I am committed to making Natchitoches Parish the best district in this state. Over the course of the past 3.5 years, we have made massive gains, but we know we have more work ahead of us. We know we are not at our destination…yet, but we are confident we are on the right track. The key word in that sentence is “Yet.” It exemplifies our growth mindset and belief that there is no obstacle we cannot collectively overcome.
Lastly, I know there is a lot of discussion nationwide about public education; the good, the bad and the ugly. I want you to know that no matter what is going on nationally you can rest assured that in Natchitoches students are protected, and our focus is solely on academic growth. Thank you so much for your continued support. God bless you and your family and let’s have a wonderful school year.
Dr. Grant Eloi, Superintendent Natchitoches Parish Schools