All Tarrant school districts meet new passing standards

Posted Thursday, Aug. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Accountability ratings ‘Met standard’ School districts that “met standard” under new accountability ratings released Thursday: Aledo, Arlington, Azle, Birdville, Burleson, Carroll, Castleberry, Crowley, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw, Everman, Fort Worth, Grapevine-Colleyville, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Keller, Lake Worth, Mansfield and White Settlement. ‘Improvement required’ Individual campuses rated “improvement required”: Arlington: Ellis, Speer and Thornton elementary schools Crowley: Stevens Middle School, Walker Intermediate School Everman: Bishop and Townley elementary schools Fort Worth: Dunbar High School, Center for New Lives, Jo Kelly School, Wedgwood 6th Grade Center, Handley Middle School, Morningside Middle School, Dunbar Middle School, Glencrest 6th Grade School and Western Hills Primary School. Elementary schools: Boulevard Heights, West Handley, De Zavala, Dillow, Logan, Eastern Hills, Moss, White, Greenbriar, Van Zandt-Guinn, Kirkpartrick, Oaklawn, Pate, Walton, Sunrise-McMillan, Western Hills, McDonald, Sims and Woodway. Grapevine-Colleyville: Timberline Elementary Keller: Basswood Elementary Lake Worth: Miller Elementary Northwest: Steele Accelerated High To see a complete list of school districts and individual campuses, go to How it works Districts and campuses are rated “met standard” if they meet performance targets in all indexes for which the state had data in 2013. Districts and campuses that did not meet one or more performance indexes were rated “improvement required.” The results are tied to these four index areas: Index 1: Student achievement based on overall student scores on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, which was launched in 2012, and the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, which is being phased out. Index 2: Student progress measured by comparing test results from year to year. Index 3: Closing academic performance gaps between minority and low-income students and their peers. Index 4: Measures postsecondary readiness and includes factors such as test scores and graduation rates. Applies only to high school. Source: Texas Education Agency

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All Tarrant County school districts received passing marks under the state’s new accountability ratings, but a handful of individual schools failed to meet the benchmark, according to results released Thursday by the Texas Education Agency.

Under the system, which is based on measurements including standardized test scores, graduation rates and student readiness for college or work, districts and their campuses are rated either “met standard” or “improvement required.”

Tarrant County districts rated “met standard” are Aledo, Arlington, Azle, Birdville, Burleson, Carroll, Castleberry, Crowley, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw, Everman, Fort Worth, Grapevine-Colleyville, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Keller, Lake Worth, Mansfield, Northwest and White Settlement.

But 39 schools got the “improvement required” rating. Twenty-eight are in the Fort Worth school district.

Schools repeatedly rated “improvement required” face federal and state sanctions, including removing administrators and teachers and allowing students to transfer to other schools.

The local numbers reflect results statewide: 93 percent of all school districts and charter schools met the passing standard, as did 84 percent of campuses. Of the 9 percent that got “improvement required,” 477 are elementary schools, 133 are middle schools and 129 are high schools.

“A transition to a new accountability system comes with a great deal of uncertainty,” state Education Commissioner Michael Williams said in a news release. “The 2013 ratings confirm that the vast majority of districts and campuses are meeting the state’s standards and providing a quality education for our students.”

Four index areas

The new system is essentially pass-fail, and districts and schools are measured in four index areas: results on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness; the closing of racial achievement gaps; year-to-year student growth; and college and career readiness at graduation.

Schools achieve a “met standard” rating by reaching all performance targets. “Improvement required” means a district or campus missed one or more targets.

Previously, the Texas Education Agency used a four-tier system that rated schools as “exemplary,” “recognized,” “academically acceptable” or “academically unacceptable.” The rankings were based mostly on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, which was criticized largely because it focused too much on general and cumulative information.

State legislators voted in 2007 to revamp the system, and STAAR took effect in spring 2012.

‘Obviously pleased’

In Fort Worth, 28 of the district’s almost 130 campuses were rated “improvement required,” mostly for failing to show academic progress by economically disadvantaged and minority students.

In 2011, the last time the TEA used the four-tier system, 22 Fort Worth schools were rated academically unacceptable, the lowest.

This year, only two other districts had more schools in the “improvement required” category than Fort Worth — Houston with 58 and Dallas with 34. San Antonio had 17 schools, and Austin had 11.

“We are obviously pleased with the benchmarks we have achieved and on which we can build,” Fort Worth Superintendent Walter Dansby said in a statement.

“We are also excited that the plans we have in place going forward will help all our schools not only meet the standards but excel far beyond those levels.”

Most Fort Worth campuses that require improvement are elementary schools — 19 — and Dunbar was the only high school with the rating. Its rating was attributed to a lack of student progress.

“The data will be analyzed to determine why the current results occurred and what can be done to change those outcomes,” district spokesman Clint Bond said. “We will be working with the principal of that school, reviewing his campus improvement plan as well as the test information just released.”

Dunbar’s principal is already working on a mentoring program that draws on alumni; building student leadership; “exploring ways to engage students in extracurricular activities”; looking at more professional development for teachers; and developing career-oriented curriculum in partnership with local companies, Bond said.

‘Room for improvement’

In some Tarrant County districts, all campuses met the passing standard — an improvement for some.

Birdville had two academically unacceptable schools in 2011 — Birdville High and Richland Middle — but this year, no schools were rated “improvement required.”

“I am proud that the district and every campus ‘met standard’ under the state’s new and more rigorous testing system,” Superintendent Darrell Brown said. “This is a reflection of the hard work of the students and staff this past year. Congratulations to the students, staff and community.”

In Crowley, two schools — Stevens Middle and Walker Intermediate — did not meet the passing standard, but Superintendent Dan Powell said he is pleased with the district’s overall performance.

“These ratings confirm that the students at every campus in CISD are continuing to make significant academic gains each year,” Powell said.

Keller had one school that got “improvement required,” Basswood Elementary, which missed the mark on student progress.

Charles Carroll, the district’s chief academic officer, said five or six other campuses were close to the cutoff for student progress and the closing of achievement gaps.

“In spite of past success and current success, we still have some room for improvement,” Carroll said.

While local and state officials were generally pleased with Thursday’s news, changes to the system are coming. Beginning in 2016-17, the state plans to move to an “A through F” rating system. And passing standards will be tougher in subsequent years, TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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