Center seniors of '08 shoot the breeze in the Wal Mart parking lot. Now the conversation can include that Center High School is one of fourteen East Texas schools on the state's deficient school list. It was placed there a year ago and remains, even though the unacceptable rating is up to acceptable. The boys know it. They worked hard to get it there. Brance Moore said, " The esteem of the students was down. We worked like dogs to get it up to that acceptable level." His buddy, Colton Bush agreed, " We had to do our homework and everything to pass, so we can get on up there. "
Garrison Middle School also improved their rating all the way to recognized. Specialized teaching labs and tutorials were introduced. Middle school principal Allan Metcalf proudly said, " This puts us in a really elite group. We're in the top 29 or 30% of the districts in the state. " Despite the achievements, administrators know the stigma of inadequacy doesn't fully go away until they're taken off the list. Garrison Independent School District superintendent Arnie Kelley said, " Honestly, three years ago our scores were really well. Because we're still on the list to me that's not necessarily fair, but that's the way the TEA and state govern that and so that's what we have to live by. "
The education commissioner can remove schools from the list early, but it seldom happens. One reason is it gives parents more time to transfer their child to other campuses because of the low rating. This rarely happens in smaller districts where there is usually only one campus. Center Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Rayford Copelin explained, " It started becoming apparent that in some areas that people were wanting to travel between districts and that was not the intent of the program, but there have been some allowances made for that. "
The state plan isn't a perfect one, but from last year there are 93 fewer schools on the deficient list. The ratings do encourage better TAKS scores. The argument remains if that assessment is the right one.