KISD, Sabine rate 'C' from TEA

Districts lambaste state's new accountability system

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Kilgore ISD has earned an overall grade of “C” on a new accountability rating system implemented by Texas Education Agency.

District accountability letter grades were publicly released statewide Wednesday and reflect data gathered during the 2017-2018 school year. This is a change from the previous district rating system, which only issued “met standard” or “did not meet standard” ratings.

The district’s overall grade reflects a score of 73 out of 100 possible points. This score is a composite of three different domain scores: student achievement, school progress and “closing the gaps.”

The district earned a 74 in student achievement, a 73 in school progress and a 69 in “closing the gaps.”

KISD released an official statement the same day the scores were made public.

The statement notes, “We believe in accountability and the ongoing assessments of our students to monitor progress. All KISD campuses are working to comply with the state’s new accountability requirements and are always striving for improvement.”

The statement also criticized the practice of heavily weighting a district’s rating with STAAR results.

“We do not believe one-day or one-time test results should be a major factor in rating a campus or a school district,” the statement read. “The use of complicated calculations based solely on standardized tests is not an accurate description of the teaching and learning at any campus in Kilgore ISD. We will continue to provide quality instruction and learning opportunities for our students that are aligned with state standards and meet the social, environmental and educational needs of our students.”

KISD Interim Superintendent Mike Morrison said the district is currently at work on improving the rating.

“It’s not a surprise,” Morrison said. “We know where they got the data. We’ve got a primary service provider, Region 7, working with teachers and staff. They are already working on the plan. We’ve had good staff development days and a lot of needs assessment. I am very confident in our ability to turn this around.”

Morrison also said each campus is required to hold a public hearing about the new accountability system and those meetings are currently being planned.

Other local districts received similar scores.

Sabine ISD also earned a “C” rating, scoring 79 out of 100 points. Sabine earned 80 out of 100 points in student achievement, 80 out of 100 in school progress and 77 out of 100 in “closing the gaps.”

Sabine ISD Superintendent Stacey Bryce provided an emailed statement regarding the rating which also disputed the accuracy of a rating heavily dependent on STAAR scores.

“We understand the importance of accountability and assessment to monitor student progress. We do use the data to make changes in our instruction as necessary, but we do not believe one test on one day can possibly measure the effectiveness of any school district. Most schools can improve their ratings and test scores if they choose to teach to the test. The Sabine ISD board of trustees and the community have made it very clear that teaching to the test is not what is wanted in our district. These tests do not take into account that Sabine ISD won FIVE academic state championships this past year alone. Also, Sabine ISD was the 3A State Champions in UIL Academics this year. We will take that any day! Maybe we have a different idea of what student success looks like than TEA does!” the statement read.

Overton ISD ranked a “D”, scoring 67 out of 100 points. The district earned 74 out of 100 points in student achievement, 71 out of 100 points in school progress and 51 out of 100 in “closing the gaps.”

A press release from Overton ISD included a statement from superintendent Stephen DuBose.

“We are very proud of the effort put forth by our students, parents, teachers and other staff to earn the Met Standard on both campuses. Of course, we are disappointed with the overall district rating, but we’ll look deeply into the data to see what caused a district with two Met Standard schools to not meet the standard itself,” DuBose wrote.

As DuBose pointed out, under the new system, a district with individual campuses receiving passing ratings can still receive a low or failing overall score.

Leverett’s Chapel earned one of the highest marks in the area with an “A” score of 91 out of 100 points overall. The district earned 81 out of 100 points on students achievement, 92 out of 100 points on school progress and 87 out of 100 on “closing the gaps.”

The student achievement domain measures how much students know and how well they perform on end-of-school tests. 40 percent of the achievement grade is based on district STAAR scores, another 40 percent is based on how well students are prepared for college, careers and the military and the final 20 percent is drawn from the district graduation rate. While nearly 100% of KISD students graduate on schedule, the district scored below state averages on every STAAR grade category and on post-graduation readiness.

The school progress score is a measure of how well students performed on STAAR tests compared to the previous year and how well they are doing compared to other districts. The score is intended to show how many students are learning a year’s worth of material in a school year.

KISD’s score of 73 indicates the district is performing acceptably and at least 66 percent of its students have made a year’s worth of academic gains or the district’s achievement is about average compared to similar districts, according to the TXSchools website.

The “closing the gaps” score is made up of four different metrics. Students are broken down into groups based on ethnicity, special education status, economic disadvantage, length of enrollment and English language proficiency. Each group is scored on academic achievement and these scores are combined to reach the final “closing the gaps” score.

50 percent of this score is made up of grade level performance ratings, 10 percent is based on academic growth and the graduation rate, 10 percent is based on English language proficiency and 30 percent is based on student achievement.

KISD’s score of 69 indicates the district needs improvement because only between 15 percent and 28 percent of its student groups have met state goals. The website states this domain is intended to measure how hard a district is working to close achievement and performance gaps between different populations within the student body.

The scores are posted on the new website TXSchools.org. The site states scores are generated by taking the higher score between student achievement and school progress. The higher score makes up 70% of the final accountability rating. The “closing the gaps” score makes up the final 30% of the rating.

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