Saturday, August 02, 2008

More Texas schools receive top ratings under state accountability system

By Molly Bloom | Friday, August 1, 2008, 01:16 PM

More schools statewide received top ratings under the state’s school accountability system this year than last, according to preliminary ratings released today.

The annual ratings — exemplary, the highest rating; recognized; academically acceptable; and academically unacceptable — are given to campuses and districts based on student performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills as well as graduation and dropout rates. Friday’s results were preliminary; campuses and school districts can appeal the ratings. Final ratings will be release in October.

Statewide, about 46 percent of schools were exemplary or recognized this year, compared with about 37 percent last year. And 2.6 percent of schools were unacceptable this year, compared with 3.4 percent last year. Schools that are repeatedly rated unacceptable are subject to sanctions ranging from hiring private tutors to closure.

The state accountability system is distinct from the federal accountability system established under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The federal ratings are expected to be released later this month.

In Austin, 15 campuses were rated exemplary, up from seven last year; 19 Austin schools earned recognized ratings this year, up from 18 last year. This year’s ratings move the district closer to its goal of having more recognized or exemplary campuses by 2010.


For a searchable statewide database of public and charter school campuses and their ratings, click here.

For a PDF list of Austin schools and their ratings, click here.

However, more Austin schools were rated unacceptable this year than last. Eleven Austin schools were rated unacceptable, including Pearce and Garcia middle schools and Reagan, Crockett and Johnston high schools. Last year, Austin had nine schools that were rated unacceptable.

State Education Commissioner Robert Scott ordered Johnston closed in June after it failed to meet state standards for the fifth year in a row. The Austin school district plans to open a traditional high school with a new, yet-to-be determined name, a new, yet-to-be-determined principal and mostly new staff members on the Johnston campus in the coming school year.

Pearce, which earned an unacceptable rating for the fourth straight year is currently entering the second year of a campus overhaul which included a new principal and many new teachers. Though student performance improved significantly in the past year, Pearce still missed state standards in areas including the percentage of seventh graders passing the writing TAKS and the percentage of eighth graders passing the science TAKS, according to preliminary results.

In the coming school year, the district will funnel more resources to Pearce, including four master teachers who will receive $12,000 stipends on top of their base salary, additional teachers and teacher assistants, more teacher training, and hiring private tutors for Pearce students.

Austin’s LBJ High School was rated acceptable this year, the first year that the comprehensive high school’s performance was judged separately from the performance of the magnet Liberal Arts and Science Academy on the LBJ campus. The magnet school received an exemplary rating this year.

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