School districts get passing grades

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All districts in Denton County meet state accountability ratings

Denton and the county’s 10 other school districts all met accountability standards for a second consecutive year, according to data released by the Texas Education Agency on Friday.

The state released accountability ratings for all Texas school districts, charters and individual campuses. The districts, schools and charters can receive one of three ratings from the state: “met standard,” “met alternative standard” or “needs improvement.” The ratings are determined by four performance indicators — student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

Accountability ratings set for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, exams were introduced in 2013.

The 11 Denton County school districts were among the 90 percent of Texas school districts that received the “met standard” rating this year.

“I just think that our teachers, our campus leadership and our students continue to show gains in all areas, and we look forward to our continuous improvement model,” Denton school Superintendent Jamie Wilson said.

Ryan Elementary School was Denton’s sole campus failing to meet standards and receiving a “needs improvement” rating Friday. All Denton schools met accountability standards in 2013.

Wilson said Ryan Elementary was one point shy of meeting the target score for the closing performance gaps indicator. The school needed to reach a target score of 28 to meet the indicator.

He said district officials will look at Ryan Elementary’s data to determine an improvement plan for the school. If it’s determined the district’s data is different from the state’s, the school could seek an appeal of its rating, Wilson said.

“If not, then we are where we are,” he said.

Mike Mattingly, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum, said district officials have met with the administration at Ryan Elementary to discuss what support the district can offer to help the elementary improve.

Individual schools that earned a “met standard” rating were eligible for up to seven distinction designations. Designations are earned for academic achievement in the areas of reading/English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Other designations awarded are top 25 percent in student progress, top 25 percent in closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

A total of 12 Denton schools earned distinction designations. Four schools in Denton County earned at least five distinction designations — Denton’s McMath Middle School and Wilson Elementary School, Aubrey’s Monaco Elementary School and Flower Mound High School.

“With our schools of distinction, the faculty and staff at those schools should be applauded for their work,” Wilson said of the Denton schools recognized.

STAAR results

One component that was factored into the state’s accountability ratings is student performance on the STAAR exams.

According to TEA data, the Denton school district saw its largest high school gains on the Algebra I and biology end-of-course assessments.

The number of students passing the spring STAAR end-of-course Algebra I exam increased by 5 percentage points, according to data. There was a gain of 4 percentage points on the spring STAAR end-of-course biology exam, according to the data.

Mattingly said the main contributor to the gains was working hard with curriculum units and ensuring that students were prepared.

He said new curriculum units were created that provided a better sequence for how curriculum was taught.

Lessons were paced a little bit better, Mattingly said, and teachers made sure everything that needed to be taught was done so in time for the state assessments.

“I think this has helped teachers stay on track, and therefore our students have benefited from that,” Mattingly said.

He added that he was pleased to see student performance improve in fourth grade and middle school writing.

The Denton school district also reported gains in math and reading in the elementary and middle school levels.

There were a few assessments where student performance was lacking by a few percentage points. It’s not something that causes the district to be overly concerned, Mattingly said.

District officials will look at specific “curriculum dimensions” to determine the areas that are causing drops in performance and make adjustments, he said.

Staff writer Jenna Duncan contributed to this report.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.

 

ON THE WEB

To view a complete list of the accountability ratings, visit http://bit.ly/V4pWMD.

To view STAAR results, visit http://bit.ly/1u7G7aQ.


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