Local school district officials are mostly pleased with student performances on the 2015 state accountability tests, but they all see room for improvement as standards continue to ratchet up.
This is the third year for accountability ratings under the STAAR testing system. Notable for 2015, math scores for third- through eighth-grade students did not count toward accountability because of changes in the curriculum.
The accountability system currently rates districts and schools on four indexes: student performance on the STAAR, student progress on the STAAR from one year to the next, closing performance gaps for the lowest-performing groups and post-secondary readiness.
Carroll and Grapevine-Colleyville schools collected a large number of distinctions, meaning they finished in the top 25 percent among 40 similar campuses in one or more areas: achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and post-secondary readiness.
Carroll was one among only 24 districts and charter schools in the state to earn a distinction in post-secondary readiness, which is the lone distinction a district can earn. Hurst-Euless-Bedford was the only other Tarrant County district to get that recognition.
Carroll finished at the top of the region in all four indexes.
In an Aug. 17 report to trustees, J.J. Villarreal, assistant superintendent for student services, said that Carroll schools earned 51 distinctions, up two from 2014.
Carroll and Dawson Middle Schools scored perfect seven of seven possible distinctions, while Eubanks Intermediate and Walnut Grove Elementary scored five of five. Every other campus earned multiple honors.
Villarreal said the challenge for a high-performing district such as Carroll is to keep student progress moving upward.
“It does make it difficult when your baselines are so high,” he said.
Educators will be working with students whose scores would not have met the Phase 2 standard, and officials will also look to improve scores on end-of-course exams in English I and II, Villarreal said.
While Grapevine-Colleyville schools scored well in student achievement and post-secondary readiness, there is room for improvement in the student progress and closing gaps scores, said Shannon Tovar, director of accountability and continuous improvement.
Tovar gave a report on accountability ratings at an Aug. 17 board meeting.
The progress score can be tricky, she said. While a student may be scoring better than they did in previous years, it may not be high enough to meet the standard as it increases in each grade level.
Officials will look at ways to close performance gaps for low-income and other groups below the district average.
GCISD schools received a total of 34 distinctions, with Dove Elementary earning five of five and Cross Timbers Middle, Glenhope Elementary and Cannon Elementary receiving four each.
Tovar said that educators from campuses that received numerous distinctions may be able to share their best practices with those who had more students who struggled.
Trustee Jesse Rodriguez said, “We’re a high-performing school district, and we should have high expectations. The question is how to raise the floor for all our kids and all our schools.”