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TEA head: low-peforming schools must improve by '09

Public schools rated academically unacceptable for four consecutive years have until summer to improve, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said today.

And that includes Polytechnic High School in Fort Worth, according to ratings released by the Texas Education Agency. The annual accountability ratings are based on student performance on state tests, dropout rates and high school completion rates.

Scott said he plans to visit the repeated, low-performing campuses this year and will meet with admininstrators and make sure the schools improve. If they fail to do so, the state could place the campuses under alternative management or even close the schools, officials said.

“Show us how much progress you’re making and get us toward that ultimate goal,” Scott said.

The ratings released today can be appealed. They become final in October.

Overall, 10 Fort Worth schools overall were rated unacceptable this year, the lowest rating on the state’s four-tier scale.

Two Arlington junior high schools — Carter and Hutcheson — were rated academically unacceptable this year. Both dropped in ratings because of passing rates on the science test. This is the first year eighth-grade science rates were a factor in accountability.

No Northeast Tarrant County area schools were academically unacceptable.

The Grapevine-Colleyville, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Northwest and Keller school districts improved to recognized status from academically acceptable in 2007. Carroll schools were rated exemplary; and the Birdville district remained at academically acceptable.

Charter schools

Westlake Academy, the state’s only municipally operated charter school, won an exemplary rating, up from recognized status last year.

Two Fort Worth charter schools that target students at risk of dropping out improved. Theresa B. Lee Academy on East Lancaster Avenue and Richard Milburn Academy on far west Camp Bowie Boulevard rose to acceptable from unacceptable ratings.

Jean Massieu Academy in Arlington, which serves a largely deaf student population, was rated unacceptable for the third year in a row.

State results

Across Texas, more school districts and campuses earned the state’s highest rating. Forty-three school districts and 996 schools earned exemplary ratings. Students on a campus or district had to post 90 percent or higher passing rates on all subjects tested in TAKS to earn the top rating.

More schools and districts earned recognized ratings, the state’s second highest mark — 328 districts and 2,815 schools.

Because more schools moved to into higher rating categories, the number of schools rated academically acceptable dropped statewide. This year, 818 districts and 3,509 schools received the rating. Last year, 920 districts and 4,108 campuses received this rating.

Thirty-seven school districts and 217 campuses received the state’s lowest rating. The numbers were down from last year when 56 districts and 276 schools obtained the poor rating.

Poor performance in the math and science TAKS tests were the main reasons schools and districts were rated academically unacceptable.

Poly plan

In Fort Worth, district leaders said Poly High has undergone major staffing and instructional changes, but the school needs time to improve.

“We have to continue to bet on Poly,” Fort Worth schools Superintendent Melody Johnson said.

Other ratings for districts and schools are available at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/

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