Poor performance in one area can lead to bad school rating

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Disappointment is on principal Steve Green's face. The school he leads, Mike Moses Middle School came back with an unacceptable rating. The veteran principal suspected it would happen since May, but that doesn't mean he has to agree with. "I don't feel like we're an unacceptable school, but that's the way the rules state and so that's what we live by and so that's what we're going to correct," said Green.

When it comes to Texas Education Agency (TEA) accountability the rules are pretty tough. "The ratings are actually based on 25 different, discrete criteria and you only have to miss in only one criterion area in order to get that academically unacceptable rating," explained Dr. Karen Halverson, NISD Assistant Superintendent of Education.

For many unacceptable schools in Texas science is the issue. "We talked to the TEA. It was a hard test," said Green. Educators haven't actually seen the test. "This will be the first science test that will be released," explained Green. Once teachers review the test they will know what areas to enhance in their instruction. They can determine if the way the questions are asked could be a factor.

Not all students performed poorly on the exams.  At Mike Moses exemplary ratings came back in reading, writing and social studies by students in all groups. Mathematics received recognized for all demographics except for white students. They achieved exemplary ratings. Even in science, academically acceptable was obtained in the groupings of all students,Hispanics, and economically disadvantaged. Exemplary ratings came back for white students. The academically unacceptable was found in one subject and the one demographic of African Americans taking science.

School choice, the rule where parents are allowed to move their children from an unacceptable school to a campus of their choice is permitted only with federal accountability. The most recent ratings are state accountability measurements. Parents are encouraged to support their campus in the effort to fix the problem.

Educators are enhancing existing lesson plans and developing new ones. "I feel very confident we'll be able to put together a very good vigorous plan to correct this issue," said Halverson.   A campus improvement team is being formed. District educators, outside experts in the field and a TEA representative will work together on the concern.

"I think this will be the last time we'll ever have this situation," expressed Green. At least that's his hope.  He knows the labels put on schools can also be placed on students, faculty and staff.

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