|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Elementary math scores bring down C-CISD accountability rating
CORRIGAN — Federal and state school district ratings were released for public schools across the state earlier this month by the Texas Education Agency. Each school is rated by the state as either unacceptable, acceptable, recognized or exemplary as well as being acknowledged as meeting the federal requirements of “Adequate Yearly Progress” or AYP. Both accountability systems utilize test scores from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) as well as graduation and attendance rates to base their findings. The federal AYP requirements are based on the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act which raises passing standards each year. Results released from TEA indicate the Corrigan-Camden district’s high school and primary campuses earned recognized status and met the AYP standard. “There was no drop in student performance from the previous year for either the high school or primary campus, only a last minute change in state standards. Using last year’s criteria, both the high school and primary campus would have received exemplary rating,” said Superintendent Tom Bowman. The junior high campus received an acceptable rating but did not meet AYP requirements. The elementary campus received an unacceptable rating from the state and missed its AYP standard. The unacceptable rating was based on a 58 percent passing rate in mathematics within the African-American subgroup. With one more passing student, the campus would have met the 65 percent standard and AYP. Statewide, half of Texas school districts did not meet AYP because those districts’ students did not achieve both the required mathematics and reading passing rates designated by the No Child Left Behind Act. This year in order for a school to meet AYP, 80 percent of students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 had to pass the reading or English language arts Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) and 75 percent had to pass the mathematics TAKS. Additionally, the feds placed a 3 percent cap on how many students are allowed to take a modified or alternative TAKS exam. “The fact that the federal system has a 3 percent cap on the number of students who can take a modified or alternative exam — regardless of those who qualify to take it — is a significant issue for our district. This is an arbitrary number that does not take into account the high population of economically disadvantaged students in our school district. While it is certainly a worthy goal to reduce the number of students in special programs, it is unrealistic to set a number for all districts statewide. It is difficult to believe that we are meeting the needs of these students by testing them with unrealistic measures,” Bowman said. School state accountability rating and federal requirements become more stringent each year. Bowman said that the measurement of a school district based strictly on the performance of its lowest performing subgroup may not be a fair measure. “To use one adjective, exemplary or unacceptable, to describe a school or group of students is questionable at best,‚“ Bowman said. Bowman also pointed out that current U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, recently proposed that the rising standards of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act be overridden. Bowman concluded, “We have always welcomed measurement and accountability which has clearly kept us focused on the importance of student achievement and their preparedness for the future. We will continue to strive to give our very best to every student, every day. We are confident Corrigan- Camden students can compete at any level, and we will not shy away from honest and fair evaluation of our performance,” Bowman said. “Our high school was one of two high schools in the state to be nominated for the prestigious Blue Ribbon award, confirming five years of outstanding achievement by our students in math. The high school, junior high and primary campuses have consistently received recognized or exemplary rating over the past five years. This past year 30 percent of the elementary students received “Commended” scores in reading. In math, 25 percent scored at the “Commended” level. The percentage of students making commended score was at the exemplary level district wide. With the Early Admissions program and local scholarship funds, a large number of this past year’s senior class graduated from high school with their first year of college completed.