Districts, campuses receive ratings from TEA

The Texas Education Agency moved forward with what has been a hot button issue for educators and school administrators statewide, releasing its 2018 state accountability ratings for 1,200 school districts and district charters across the state Aug. 15.

Plans for the ranking system were initially brought to the forefront by the Texas Legislature back in 2015 with an eye towards having a rating system in place to review the 2017-’18 school year. Those plans eventually resulted in a system whereby districts and individual campuses would be given letter grades for five different domains including student achievement, student progress, closing the gaps, postsecondary readiness and community and student engagement.

As a primer for the official rollout, districts were given their first look at what type of results they would have received had the system been in place for the 2015-’16 school year in early January 2017.

Wills Point, which "Met Standard" for every campus in the met standard/improvement required rating system still in place for the 2015-'16 school year, would have earned a "D" in three domains, student achievement, student progress and closing the gaps, and an "A" in postsecondary readiness according to the new ratings system.

Due in large part to the feedback it received from educators and administrators, the TEA altered its rating system to grade districts and campuses in three areas:

-Student Achievement, which measures what students know and can do by the end of the year. It includes results from state assessments across all subjects for all students, on both general and alternate assessments, College, Career, and Military Readiness (CCMR) indicators, like AP and ACT results, and graduation rates.

-School Progress, which measures how much better students are doing on the STAAR test this year versus last year, and how much better students are doing academically relative to schools with similar percentages of economically disadvantaged students.

-Closing the Gaps, which looks at performance among student groups, including various racial/ethnic groups, socioeconomic backgrounds and other factors.

District results

-Wills Point ISD earned a score of 79.2 overall, including a 77/100 in student achievement, an 84/100 in school progress and a 68/100 in closing the gaps.

-WPHS earned an overall score of 72/100, including 77/100 in student achievement, 72/100 in school progress and 59/100 in closing the gaps.

-WPJH earned an overall score of 90/100, including 76/100 in student achievement, 91/100 in school progress and 87/100 in closing the gap. The campus was recognized with several distinctions including its academic achievement in science, postsecondary readiness, and for being in the 25 percent of both comparative academic growth and comparative closing the gaps.

-WPMS earned an overall score of 79/100, including 75/100 in student achievement, 80/100 in school progress and 77/100 in closing the gaps. The campus received distinctions for being in the 25 percent of both comparative academic growth and comparative closing the gaps.

-Earnest O. Woods Intermediate School earned an overall score of 76/100 including 67/100 in student achievement, 77/100 in school progress and 74/100 in closing the gaps. The campus received distinctions for being in the 25 percent of both comparative academic growth and comparative closing the gaps.

-Wills Point Primary are paired with those of the district as a whole.

District reaction

Shortly after the TEA issued its results, the WPISD addressed the matter by issuing a letter to parents/guardians and the community that read: “Last year, the Texas legislature passed HB22, which evaluates school districts and campuses with A-F ratings based on the areas of student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps according to the Texas Education Agency's website.

“Today, WPISD received their rating of 79.2. This rating is not a measurement of the hard work our students and teachers put in all year long, but an analysis of one test score. Our goal at WPISD is to produce well rounded students who are able to collaborate, problem-solve, think critically, work hard, communicate effectively, adapt, demonstrate character and serve others. The new accountability system does not evaluate these important characteristics that are essential for success in life.

“Moving forward, we will accept the rating we received as an arbitrary measurement with no effect on the way we teach, protect, encourage, and love our students. While the district believes in accountability, there is no evidence this system will improve the success of students.

“WPISD will continue a tradition of excellence with the support of our community, and we will continue fighting for a community-based accountability system that appropriately measures the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of all students, regardless of background, ZIP code, or socioeconomic status."

Results for other school districts in Van Zandt County included: Canton ISD receiving a B by scoring 89/100; Edgewood ISD receiving a B by scoring 84/100; Fruitvale ISD receiving a C by scoring 77/100; Grand Saline ISD receiving a B by scoring 88/100; Martins Mill ISD receiving an A by scoring 92/100; and Van ISD receiving a B by scoring 86/100.