Standardized test scores often bring a major dose of stress to teachers and administrators toward the end of the school year.
For the 2016-17 school year, which has been unlike any in the history of the Livingston Parish Public School System, a different measure of stress awaits teachers, administrators and central office personnel.
By the end of the school year, they will receive what will serve as a measuring stick on the impact the Great Flood of 2016 will have on the school system.
The number of returning students will tell a large part of the story – and could have a critical effect on the funding.
As with every other public school system, state and federal funding hinge upon the student population.
On the state level, it could the amount of money Livingston Parish receives through the Minimum Foundation Program. Through the MFP, Louisiana annually adopts a formula to equitably allocate funding for education to school districts. Funding through this program is provided to school districts as a block grant.
On the federal level, student population hinges upon the amount of money a school system receives for reduced-rate breakfast and lunch. It also determines the amount of federally allocated Title I funding, which provides the financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet state academic standards.
Another measurement of the long-term effect could come through the number of registrations for pre-K and kindergarten, which could give another measuring stick to how many families have either found temporary shelter or permanent housing in another parish or outside Louisiana.
It then comes down the “big test” in the literal sense. The test scores in the wake of a disaster which disrupted practically all normal activity for every resident of Livingston Parish could also serve as a tell-tale factor about the flood.
Thousands of school students were displaced and endured all the disruptions of life which come with an abrupt relocation from their home, either temporary or permanently.
It remains to be seen how much the flood will affect the test scores, but the impact of the disaster drew little or no sympathy from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which nixed a request for a later testing date in light of the flood.
The effect on the school system could deal a huge blow to the Livingston Parish Public School System and put it on a major tailspin.
On the other hand, high test scores and solid numbers on returning students could add fuel to the belief that Livingston Parish will comeback bigger and stronger than ever.