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Two middle schools to offer option

Profile image for By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer
By Britney Tabor / Staff Writer

Deadline for transfers from Calhoun, McMath scheduled for Sept. 10

Families with students enrolled at Calhoun and McMath middle schools have until Sept. 10 to request a transfer to another campus as those two schools are sanctioned for failing to meet federal progress standards this year.

Sharon Cox, a district spokeswoman, said a letter will be sent this week to inform families of the option, and students who decide to transfer can go to a campus where space is available.

According to the Texas Education Agency, districts or schools that fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards for two or more years for the same reason and that receive Title I funding — money used for educating low-income students — move into the school improvement program and are subject to sanctions.

Schools in the first stage of sanctions, like Calhoun and McMath, must create improvement plans and offer students the opportunity to transfer to a campus that did meet AYP standards, according to the TEA. Schools in stages 2 to 5 face stricter sanctions.

Mike Mattingly, Denton’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and staff development, said transportation must be provided to students who wish to transfer. Funding equating to 20 percent of the Title I funds is set aside to transport those students who opt to transfer schools, he said.

Mattingly said the curriculum and instruction department is continually looking at what can be done to improve student performance, as well as improve schools overall. He said the district is focusing on curriculum and making sure it aligns with standards from grade level to grade level.

Last week, the Texas Education Agency released preliminary federal accountability ratings, and the Denton school district and 15 of its campuses failed to meet those requirements.

The campuses with failing marks include seven secondary schools — Denton, Ryan and Guyer high schools, and Calhoun, McMath, Navo and Strickland middle schools — and eight elementary schools — Borman, Cross Oaks, Evers Park, Ginnings, Lee, Rivera, Ryan and Savannah.

Of those schools not meeting the requirements, eight are Title I schools, Mattingly said.

The district reports 54 percent of its schools — 19 of the district’s 35 campuses — met AYP targets in math and reading.

The federal school accountability system this year required that a school or district have 87 percent or more of students passing the state English/language arts exam; 83 percent passing the state math test; and 95 percent participating in the state testing program. TEA officials said that depending on grade level, a district or school also had to have either a 75 percent graduation rate or a 90 percent attendance rate.

By 2014, all students, including those in special education and English language learners, are expected to be passing mathematics and reading exams on grade level, district officials say.

District officials said that in the last three years, the passing standards for districts and schools to meet AYP has increased by 16 percentage points in math and 14 percentage points on English/language arts and reading exams.

Earlier this year, the state replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills with State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, a more rigorous standardized exam.

Denton school officials said they intend to release ninth-grade results on the exam at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Results for eighth grade and below aren’t expected to be released by the state until January, they said.

Denton Superintendent Jamie Wilson has said the district’s students have either improved or maintained performance on state assessments despite increases in passing standards over the years. As students improve, the number of schools meeting AYP from 2011 to 2012 declined, and that’s a flaw in the system, Wilson said.

“Seventy-two percent of the districts in the state of Texas did not meet AYP,” he said. “This is a statewide issue because our kids are performing better than they have before on a more rigorous test.

“It gives the perception that the students are not doing well and that’s not the case.”

Last week’s results will be finalized in December, according to TEA officials.Districts have until Sept. 7 to appeal the preliminary ruling.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is .