Killeen and Temple independent school districts scored a D and Copperas Cove, Florence and Gatesville districts received C’s in Children at Risk’s 2014 rankings of all schools in Texas, according to a report issued last week.
Salado ISD and Belton ISD received A’s, while Lampasas ISD earned a B.
Children at Risk is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to assessing school districts’ dealings with at-risk children. This year, districts were ranked overall rather than by campus across three indexes: student achievement, which assesses State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness testing; campus performance; and gross index, which relates to improvement of at-risk students over a period of time.
Caroline Neary, associate director of the Center for Social Measurement and Evaluation at the University of Houston, said the study accounts for poverty to allow a level playing field between more economically disadvantaged districts and their more affluent counterparts. However, to keep the standard high it doesn’t totally adjust for poverty.
“We know that it’s possible for districts with a high amount of poverty to perform well,” Neary said. “But because we know it’s a lot more challenging to work with students from those backgrounds, we want to give those districts credit.”
According to the Texas Tribune, 52.3 percent of Killeen ISD students were considered economically disadvantaged in 2012, and 48.4 percent of the student population was considered to be at risk of dropping out of high school.
Killeen ISD officials were not available for comment Thursday or Friday.
The percentage of economically disadvantaged students in Copperas Cove was 46.1 in 2012, with 48.4 percent at risk of dropping out.
Katie Ryan, Cove ISD assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said the district’s annual dropout rate is 0.4 percent, compared to 2.4 percent statewide. Ryan said the district consistently takes pre-emptive measures to reach its at-risk students.
“We don’t wait for them to become at risk before we react,” Ryan said. “We bring the support systems to them in that classroom, and then if the child is still needing further assistance, they will be pulled out for even more individualized complex services, such as tutoring and tier programs.”
Students within the district are highly mobile because of Copperas Cove’s proximity to Fort Hood, which, Ryan said, can work as an advantage and disadvantage.
“The longer we have a child in our system, the more we can do with them,” Ryan said. “There’s advantages and disadvantages to both. We try to capitalize on the advantages.”
Neary said parents who have children in lower-ranked districts should take initiative and become more involved in their child’s education.
“If a district has a lower grade, I think that should be a wake-up call for parents and community members to try to get more involved in the improving of their schools, and for administrators to take a closer look at how they can work on improving performance,” Neary said. “Maybe there are new strategies or interventions that they can try if what they’re doing hasn’t been quite working.”