Houston County Schools Receive 1B, 2Cs and 2Ds
By Will Johnson
EAST TEXAS – The newest rendition of the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) accountability rating system was released on Wednesday, Aug. 15. This is the first year an A-F rating scale has been used publicly by the districts and the report card for Houston County showed the oldest county in Texas with a B, two Cs and two Ds.
According to the TEA, districts received a grade or rating based on performance in three areas.
The first area was student achievement which “… measures what students know and can do by the end of the year. It includes results from state assessments across all subjects for all students, on both general and alternate assessments, College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR) indicators, like AP and ACT results, and graduation rates.”
The second area was school progress which “… measures how much better students are doing on the STAAR test this year versus last year, and how much better students are doing academically relative to schools with similar percentages of economically disadvantaged students.”
The third area was closing the gaps which “… looks at performance among student groups, including various racial/ethnic groups, socioeconomic backgrounds and other factors.”
“Seventy percent of the accountability rating is based on the better of Student Achievement or Student Progress (whichever is better is the only performance measure counted in the calculations). The remaining 30 percent is based on performance in the Closing the Gaps area,” the TEA website stated.
Lovelady ISD led the way in Houston County with an overall rating of a B and an overall score of 89. In student achievement, LISD scored an 89. In school progress LISD scored an 83 and in the closing the gap area, LISD tallied an 88.
“With the new A-F accountability system being put into place this year we were pleased our overall district rating was a “B” with a score of 89 being only on point from achieving an A,” LISD Superintendent Wendy Tullos said.
She added both the elementary and junior high/ high school campuses received a “met standard” rating in all three domains “… which is a huge accomplishment. These ratings have been accomplished through the combined efforts of the Lovelady ISD administrators, students, parents, staff, and community members.”
Tullos explained the district strives for excellence in all areas, but stressed LISD will not rest on its laurels and will continue to set – as well as – attain lofty goals.
“I would like to state that although ratings are required and we are pleased but not satisfied with our ratings, what educators do on a daily basis is much more than a single letter grade,” she asserted.
Latexo ISD had an overall rating of a C and an overall score of 79. In student achievement, LISD scored a 79. In school progress LISD scored an 82 and in the closing the gap area, LISD tallied a 72.
“Of course we would love to have pulled out one more point for a B,” LISD Superintendent Dr. Stacy Easterly said. However, with our new reading curriculum for the Elementary Campus, I feel that we will make great strides in our reading. Latexo has also implemented a district wide curriculum called Edmentum which will assist us in all core areas. Our intervention classes have also received a facelift with some new programs.”
She said her belief is with the improvements in programs and in professional development, the district will continue onward and upward.
“Our high school really knocked the top off of the STARR and received two Distinctions in Math and Post- Secondary Readiness. Our elementary received one Distinction in Academic Growth which shows we are heading in the right direction. Overall Latexo ISD is excited to announce we are a competitive academic district and is looking forward to next year as we move toward the A!” the LISD superintendent said.
Easterly said it the district’s goal to see all students “… achieve at high levels. We also believe in ongoing progress monitoring of all students to assure they are heading in the right direction and when they are not to intervene and continue to progress monitor all along the way. We also believe in our Response to Intervention meetings between teachers and principals pertaining to students having difficulties to provide prescriptive intervention. “
Crockett ISD had an overall rating of a C and an overall score of 74. In student achievement, CISD scored a 68. In school progress CISD scored a 79 and in the closing the gap area, CISD tallied a 63.
“You’ve heard me say this before,” CISD Superintendent Terry Myers said, “I don’t place a lot of stock on an accountability system that is being put together in terms of one test or one testing period. You will see this thing touted as the fairest and the best we’ve ever had, but it’s no different than any of the rest of them (accountability systems).”
Myers said it appeared the district fared okay under the new A-F system.
“Overall, we did pretty well. If you look at the individual scores – in both the district and the campus there are some areas we need to work on. For example, on campus we will do well on school improvement and on another we won’t,” he said.
The CISD superintendent said in some areas this rating system was more just because one area could pick up other areas “… but I’m not sure they are going to continue this. Eventually, they will wind up putting each area on its own. You won’t get to average scores or pick the better of the two. There is still some information that is not in there, like career and college readiness, which will be in the accountability system but aren’t in this one.”
Kennard ISD had an overall rating of a D and an overall score of 65. In student achievement, KISD scored a 64. In school progress KISD scored a 70 and in the closing the gap area, KISD tallied a 53.
“Let me say, the new A through F labels will not automatically change student performance in the schools,” KISD Superintendent Malinda Lindsey said.
“These labels don’t tell educators, parents or members of the community little or anything new or useful for our staff to improve student performance,” she said.
The KISD superintendent reported of the 22 state assessments and end of course exams administered in the district “… on 16 of those our students made progress. On the elementary campus, our students increased the ‘Met Standards’ passing rate from 43 percent in 2017 to 63 percent in 2018.”
While the system seems simple when taken at face value, Lindsey commented “… no one can explain why the districts receive either an A or an F because of the way it is calculated. We’re not going to focus on the letter grade. We are going to focus on the amount of progress our students make.”
Grapeland ISD had an overall rating of a D and an overall score of 63. In student achievement, GISD scored a 72. In school progress GISD scored a 73 and in the closing the gap area, GISD tallied a 38.
“We’re not going to panic,” GISD Superintendent Don Jackson said, “because we know there are some things that we can do better at in our district.”
Jackson said the district was looking into the way “… we serve our high school students and making sure in their early years of high school, they get their EOC (end of course) tests doe early. The state now requires our juniors and seniors finish with a plan for college, career or military readiness.”
Jackson commented this is a starting point because he now knows where the district stands – according to the state – gives him the opportunity to find out exactly where the deficiencies are so that he can assess and address the issues.
“I’m not one to make excuses,” the superintendent asserted. “We know what we need to do and now we need to do it. It’s a complicated system I’m still learning. It is forcing me to be more engaged in what we need to do to be more successful in the area of accountability. It’s not a bad thing.”
There were 742 school districts and 87 charter operators which were rated using the A-F scale. Of the 742 districts: 121 received an A Rating; 334 received a B; 232 received a C; 46 received a D; and 9 received an F.
Of the 87 charter operators: 32 received an A Rating; 22 received a B; 15 received a C; 11 received a D; and 7 received an F.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org