Thursday, August 11, 2011

Number of Texas schools not meeting federal requirements skyrockets

By TAWNELL D. HOBBS | Dallas Morning News
04 August 2011

The number of Texas schools failing to make adequate progress under federal law skyrocketed partly because the state eliminated a rule that allowed some students who failed state exams to be counted as passing.

The dramatic rise was also driven by federal standards that become more difficult to clear each year.

Texas schools failing to make “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind Act increased to 2,233 from 368 last year, according to preliminary results released Thursday by the Texas Education Agency.

Districts didn’t fare much better — 605 missed the standard, up from 250. That means 49 percent of districts are not in compliance.

The number of Dallas ISD nonqualifying schools increased to 83 from 30. Houston ISD increased to 75 from 20, while Fort Worth increased to 76 from 20.

Texas Education Agency officials said the elimination of the Texas Projection Measure probably played a big role coupled with the climbing federal standards. The projection measure gave schools credit for students who failed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills but were predicted to pass in the future.

Last year, 78 percent of schools that met the federal standard benefited from the projection measure, said TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson. She added that student passage rates on state tests help determine if adequate yearly progress is met under the federal definition.

The required passing rates under federal guidelines this year were 80 percent in reading and 75 percent in math. Individual student groups, such as white, black, and Hispanic, also had to meet the requirements. Last year, the required passing rates were 73 percent in reading and 67 percent in math.

The law requires that 100 percent of students be proficient in both subjects by 2014.

Other factors taken into consideration include attendance and graduation rates.

Culbertson said that the basic federal standards this year are similar to standards required to achieve the state’s second-highest performance rating, “recognized.” But even some schools that did well in the state rating system this year did not meet the federal requirement, including Liberty High School in Frisco and Allen High School, which both received the state’s “recognized” rating last week but did not meet the federal standard.

Despite the increase in schools on the list, Culbertson noted that a majority of them met the federal standard.

“We still have two-thirds of our campuses meeting AYP,” she said.

Schools that don’t meet the federal standard and receive Title 1 federal funding are subject to corrective action, from restructuring and replacing staff to closure.

Campuses must meet the federal standard for two consecutive schools years to be considered making progress.

Dallas ISD Interim Superintendent Alan King said in a news release Thursday that the district makes no excuses for student performance under the federal guidelines. But he noted that 2011 TAKS results for DISD showed overall gains in math and a half-point decline in reading.

“The annual ratcheting up of standards is catching up with our district and does not necessarily reflect on the quality of teaching or opportunities available to students whose campuses did not meet AYP status,” he said.

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