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TEA releases school ratings

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

Nearly 93 percent of Texas school districts and charters and 84 percent of individual schools met state accountability standards, according to the Texas Education Agency.

On Thursday, the agency released 2013 ratings for the state’s more than 1,200 school districts and charters and more than 8,500 individual campuses under a new accountability system.

Thursday’s ratings are the first released by the TEA for districts, charters and campuses since 2011. No accountability ratings were released in 2012 as the state transitioned into use of a new state accountability exam, STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness).

Under the new accountability system, districts, charters and individual campuses earn one of three ratings: Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required. According to TEA data, 6.5 percent of districts and charters and 9.1 percent of individual schools received the Improvement Required rating.

In a media release distributed by the TEA, Michael Williams, state commissioner of education, said this year’s ratings confirm that a majority of districts and schools are providing schoolchildren a “quality education.”

Ratings are based on four indicators: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

Williams scrapped the old system that relied on standardized test scores and did away with the old ratings. The new accountability system uses test scores, graduation rates and college admission exams to calculate indexes for student achievement, student progress, student readiness for college or work and how well a school is helping disadvantaged children.

According to the TEA, districts and schools with students in grades nine and above must meet all four indicators, and those with students in grades eight and below must meet three indicators, excluding postsecondary readiness.

According to ratings released Thursday, the Denton school district earned the Met Standard rating, and all of its schools — with the exception of those not rated — met state standards.

In a statement Thursday, Superintendent Jamie Wilson said the district expects its schools “to continue to meet all standards.”

“In addition, our district continues to focus on the growth of each individual student,” Wilson’s statement read. “Our teachers work diligently to ensure the success of each and every child.”

Mike Mattingly, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and staff development, stated in a separate statement that the district is pleased the new accountability system “recognizes student performance growth over time.”

“We are always striving to push students to learn at their maximum potential regardless of where they start,” Mattingly’s statement read. “With the new performance indices, we will better be able to monitor and measure student growth from one year to the next.

“It is evident from the accountability report that Denton ISD’s emphasis on preparing students for postsecondary is paying off. Our teachers and school leaders are very focused on the preparation of our graduates for their future,” Mattingly stated.

According to ratings released by the state, other area districts and charters receiving a Met Standard rating included: Argyle, Aubrey, Krum, Lake Dallas, Pilot Point, Ponder, Sanger and Texas Education Center in Aubrey.

Tammy Morgan, director of instructional services for Pilot Point ISD, said the new accountability system gives the district a clear picture at the growth of each individual student, whereas the former system was cumulative.

“We’re being measured on many different tiers than before, which is a good thing,” she said. “We don’t want to lose any of our students, and the new system helps us to be accountable.”

Alternative education schools Fred Moore High School in Denton, Linda Tutt High School in Sanger and the Winfree Academy Charter School Denton campus received Met Alternative Standard ratings.

Texas Education Centers Denton campus received an Improvement Required rating. Kay King, executive assistant and PEIMS (Public Education Information Management System) coordinator for Texas Education Centers, which also has campuses in Little Elm, Lewisville and Aubrey, said the Denton campus exceeded state standard’s in three of the four indicators but was 3 points shy of meeting standards in postsecondary readiness. The target score for the indicator was 75 and the campus received a score of 72.

Kay said the school’s TEA consultant has recommended that the school appeal the rating, and it plans to do so. She said school officials feel they have met the standard.

Appeals must be submitted by Sept. 9, said DeEtta Culbertson, a TEA spokeswoman.

“Each appeal is looked at individually,” she said. “It’s not a data correction opportunity but they can file their appeal and it will be reviewed.”

Culbertson said campuses needing improvement face sanctions. A campus intervention team comes in to work with the campus to develop a school improvement plan for implementation. The more years a school fails to meet standards, the more sanctions increase, she said. Culbertson said campuses that were rated unacceptable in 2011 and that rated improvement required this year will have those two years counted as consecutive years since there were no accountability ratings in 2012.

According to TEA, schools receiving a Met Standard rating also had opportunities to earn distinction designations. Designations included: Top 25 Percent Student Progress, Academic Achievement in Reading/English language arts and Academic Achievement in Mathematics.

Area schools receiving the Top 25 Percent Student Progress included 10 in northern Denton County; 11 received Academic Achievement in Reading/English language arts and Academic Achievement in Mathematics designations.

According to the TEA, 750 campuses earned distinctions in all three areas. Those campuses included Argyle Intermediate School, Denton’s Nelson and Wilson elementary schools and Sanger’s Clear Creek Intermediate School.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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