With passing standards on the state assessment ratcheting up this year, 26 area schools missed the mark, three fewer than last year, and all Tarrant County school districts met the districtwide standard, according to a preliminary review of accountability ratings released Monday.
More than 8,600 schools in 1,200 school districts as well as charter schools are evaluated and rated as “met standard” or “improvement required.” The state accountability rating takes into account several factors: passing rates on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness, student progress, closing achievement gaps, and college and career readiness. According to the Texas Education Agency, the percentage of districts that met standard held steady at about 94 percent while about 88 percent of campuses met standard.
Schools repeatedly rated as improvement-required face federal and state sanctions, including removing administrators and teachers and allowing students to transfer to other schools.
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In the Fort Worth school district, 22 campuses were rated as improvement required, one more than last year, but 13 of those were new to the list. Eleven of the schools were middle schools or sixth-grade campuses.
The dip in middle school ratings comes as no surprise. Earlier this summer, Fort Worth district officials reported that sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students struggled in 2016 STAAR testing, scoring well below the state average in many of the subject areas.
Clint Bond, district spokesman, said Superintendent Kent Scribner, who has been at the helm for a year, is looking at the last two years as a baseline.
“He has his new leadership team in place, and the focus is on what needs to be done,” Bond said.
Moving to met-standard were: Wyatt High School, International Newcomer Academy and Peace, Dillow, Eastern Hills, Moss, Beal, Pate and Sunrise-McMillan elementary schools.
The Arlington and Crowley school districts had two campuses each that were rated improvement-required.
On the list from Arlington are Wimbish and Roquemore elementaries. Roquemore closed at the end of the school year to make way for two new campuses funded by the district’s 2014 bond package.
Adams and Berry elementaries moved off the list.
Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos said district officials were encouraged by the latest ratings.
“What we see are strong gains throughout the system that are a direct result of the support we’re giving to campuses,” Cavazos said.
Although Wimbish is making its third consecutive appearance on the list, its scores are showing some improvement, he said, and officials expect further gains in the coming year because of districtwide curriculum improvements.
Steven Wurtz, Arlington’s chief academic officer, said Wimbish is receiving extra support, including outside consultants and additional staffing at the campus to work with teachers, and more teacher training.
Wurtz said educators were tracking students from Roquemore to their new campuses to provide additional help in the upcoming year.
Crowley had three schools on the 2015 list, but the two on this year’s list are different: Race and Hargrave elementaries. Parkway, Poynter and Meadowcreek moved to met-standard.
Crowley Superintendent Dan Powell said in a statement: “These latest results show significant academic gains and highlight specific needs in our schools that will help us identify key areas of intervention and enrichment as we help all students achieve their full potential. But, we will not let ratings from a complicated and controversial state accountability system dictate how we teach students.”
With a new vendor in charge, the 2016 STAAR testing season was fraught with problems. From tests and results delivered late and sent to the wrong districts to incorrect scores and technical malfunctions with online tests, area administrators expressed concerns that their districts, campuses and students would be evaluated with a faulty measuring stick.
In June, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Morath canceled retesting for fifth- and eighth-graders, saying that they would not be held back by failing scores in math and reading because of the testing problems but that the scores still would factor into accountability ratings.
Also, 2016 marked the first time that the state raised the passing standards on the STAAR, meaning students often had to correctly answer a few more questions to pass the test than they did in previous years.
TEA officials said in a statement Monday that, despite the higher passing standards, the success rates for all Texas high school students taking STAAR end-of-course exams remained stable, according to preliminary statewide results.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Como Elementary School*
Daggett Elementary School
Daggett Middle School
De Zavala Elementary School*
Eastern Hills High School
Elliot Elementary School
Forest Oak Middle School*
Glencrest 6th Grade Center
Handley Middle School
Jacquet Middle School
Leonard Middle School
Logan Elementary School*
McClung Middle School
Mitchell Boulevard Elementary School*
Morningside Middle School
Riverside Middle School
Rosemont 6th Grade Center
Terrell Elementary School*
Walton Elementary School*
Wedgwood 6th Grade Center
West Handley Elementary School*
White Elementary School*
Roquemore Elementary School**
Wimbish Elementary School*
Hargrave Elementary School
Race Elementary School
*On last year’s improvement-required list.
**Closed in June.