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Home | Tag Archives: texas school ratings

Tag Archives: texas school ratings

Texas’ Most Populous Districts see As through Ds in New Ratings

The 10 most-populous districts in the state received more Ds than As in the new A-F rating system, according to a preliminary report out to educators Friday. By comparison, the 10 biggest charters saw more As and a smattering of Fs.

Districts and schools in Texas were welcomed back to school this January with a report card from the Texas Education Agency — and many saw a wide range of letters.

For the first time, the agency assigned public schools and districts preliminary letter grades in four categories, and those grades were officially released Friday. The state’s 10 most-populous districts received a range of letter grades in the categories, from A to D, with the Ds much more prevalent than the As.

Education leaders have been vocally resistant to the new grade system, arguing it is too dependent on state test performance and does not provide a comprehensive view of student achievement.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 2804 in the 2015 legislative session, changing the accountability system to one that assigns schools and districts grades A through F. The previous system rated schools as simply “met standard” or “improvement required.”

Districts and schools on Friday received grades for each of four categories: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and college or career readiness. These grades show what they would have scored had the rating already been in place, but are not yet official.

The overall letter grades will not come out until August 2018 – but by then, the models for calculating them might be completely different, according to state Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

“The ratings in this report are for informational purposes to meet a legislative requirement and represent work-in-progress models that are likely to change before A–F ratings become effective in August 2018,” he said in a release. “No inferences about official district or campus performance in the 2015–16 school year should be drawn from these ratings, and these ratings should not be considered predictors of future district or campus performance ratings.”

In the next year, districts will also choose a fifth category related to community and student engagement to include in the overall calculation of the grade.

Many districts have approved resolutions asking legislators to repeal the A-F grading system and replace it with one that does not include letter grades or ratings based on state testing performance.

The 10 most-populous districts, which all met standards in 2016, received a wide range of grades in the four categories from A through D.

Most, besides Dallas ISD, received Cs or Ds in the college and career readiness category. That category is based on the chronic absenteeism rate in elementary and middle schools, as well as the dropout rate and graduation rate in middle and high schools. In high schools, it also includes the percentage of graduates who have completed AP courses, the SAT or ACT test, 12 or more hours of college credit, or technical courses.

The 10 districts received four A grades between them for any of the four categories. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD received an A in student progress, which shows whether students’ STAAR state test scores have improved over time.

Katy ISD received an A for both student progress and student achievement, meaning its students are doing well on the STAAR test. Fort Bend ISD also received an A for STAAR student progress.

Critics have argued the STAAR test should not be a large part of the new accountability system, especially after a computer glitch wiped out answers on thousands of tests last March. Morath has said the problems with STAAR only affected a small number of students, and that the test should be used to determine school and district grades.

The 10 largest charters, which all met standards in 2016, also varied widely in their grades. They received three F grades between them in any of the four categories. Texas College Preparatory Academies got two of those Fs, for failure to close the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students, and for poor college and career readiness. Jubilee Academic Center received three Ds and an F for failing college and career readiness.

IDEA Public Schools performed the best of all the charters, scoring three As and a B in student achievement on the STAAR test.

Read more Tribune coverage here:

Author:  ALIYYA SWABY – The Texas Tribune

Ratings for 10 most populous districts

The TEA has grouped scores into four rating categories: 1) STAAR student achievement, 2) STAAR student progress, 3) Closing performance gaps and 4) College and career readiness

ratings1

Ratings for 10 most populous charters

The TEA has grouped scores into four rating categories: 1) STAAR student achievement, 2) STAAR student progress, 3) Closing performance gaps and 4) College and career readiness

ratings2

Reference Material 2015-16 A-F preliminary ratings  (5.4 MB) DOWNLOAD

How a South Texas School District Spurred a Massive Turnaround

After five years of landing on the state’s list of low-performing schools, a tiny South Texas district that drew national headlines for cutting its sports program to ward off closure is now meeting state academic standards.

In addition to overwhelming community buy-in, Eric Ramos, the interim superintendent for the Premont Independent School District, says a unique partnership with Texas A&M University-Kingsville was key to a successful turnaround, resulting in hefty grant dollars and rigorous teacher training and support.

Annual accountability ratings released this week rate the 480-student district as “met standards” for the first time since 2011.

That year, the Texas Education Agency sent a letter to then-Superintendent Ernest Singleton saying that the district 70 miles southwest of Corpus Christi would lose its accreditation and be absorbed into a neighboring district. The reason? Years of financial disarray and lagging academic performance.

Not expecting a state-enforced closure to come so quickly, Singleton went to Austin and asked for more time to turn the district around.

What followed, by all accounts, was a local uprising.

In November 2011, Premont residents voted overwhelmingly for a 13-cent property tax hike to support the schools. A month later, the education agency agreed to delay its decision to close the district by a year, setting out stringent demands for financial and academic improvement. The following year, the district received $315,000 in donations from area schools, foundations, businesses and anonymous donors, according to a timeline of events provided to The Texas Tribune. Students even helped raised money.

While the district’s finances improved, student performance on state exams still lagged, affecting the school’s accountability rating. And the district struggled to boost attendance, which is tied to state funding.

In May 2013, then-Education Commissioner Michael Williams and Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp announced that Texas A&M University-Kingsville would partner with Premont to “provide support, training, mentorship and opportunities to the students, teachers and administrators.”

The district’s progress since then is “all rooted there,” said Ramos, a former A&M-Kingsville lecturer who was hired to be Premont’s federal programs director in 2010 when the district “was at rock bottom.” He is hoping to land the permanent superintendent job soon.

“The support that the university has offered has allowed us to focus on improving the self-efficacy and the capacity of the teachers,” he said, describing the partnership as “amazing.”

Under the alliance, teachers have attended two-day training sessions every six weeks, with one day focused on curriculum and the other focused on instructional strategies.

Steven Tallant, president of A&M-Kingsville, accepted some of the credit, describing the university as a “significant partner,” but said Premont never would have been able to get there “without taking care of it themselves.”

“These kids all deserve a quality education, and it’s nice to know things are getting better,” he said.

The district is gradually reintroducing its sports program, which it cut both to save money and to encourage students to focus solely on academics. (It kept its band and other University Interscholastic League programs.) Attendance has gradually improved, along with standardized test scores.

Despite significant progress, the district actually expected to miss the mark again this year on its state accountability rating, Ramos said. Internal calculations showed it would fall short by a razor-thin two-tenths of a point. Ramos had pre-emptively set up a meeting with education agency staff in Austin.

But the district’s math turned out to be slightly off. Officials hadn’t included some exams that counted toward the rating, and had others re-scored, with several changing from failing to passing. In the end, they will probably clear the mark by a full point, Ramos estimated.

Some opponents of the state’s accountability system see the rating methodology as both too punitive and hyper-focused on exam scores. And critics of the state’s public school funding systems see schools like Premont’s as victims of vast inequities. While district officials acknowledge financial and academic mismanagement on the part of their predecessors, the school, where more than 80 percent of students are economically disadvantaged, was one of the most poorly funded districts in the state to begin with.

Ramos said $8 million in state grants the university helped secure have been crucial to the turnaround process, providing — among other things — five master teachers who have closely advised the district’s less-experienced educators.

“We’re a small, rural school district that’s in the middle of nowhere, almost, so it’s difficult to attract teachers who are going to stay here,” Ramos said. “We were getting the first-year teacher who was going to get his year or two in and move on.”

Premont’s good news comes as state officials study how to deal with chronically struggling schools, and the partnership with A&M may provide some insight.

Education Commissioner Mike Morath told the Senate Education Committee this week that the education agency is studying methods employed by districts whose turnarounds have stuck. More than half of struggling schools either stay on the state’s low-performing list or quickly relapse, he noted.

Author:   – The Texas Tribune

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