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Low income trends may also be to blame for low-ranking local schools

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Children at Risk school ratings map

While Killeen Independent School District officials say high mobility rates have affected school ratings done by Children at Risk, a Texas-based nonpartisan research organization, the district’s performance grades may also reflect schools in lower income areas struggling academically.

Typically elementary and middle schools in south Killeen (east of State Highway 195), Harker Heights and Nolanville have fared well on the Children at Risk rankings, receiving mostly As, Bs and Cs.

Four of the top five elementary schools are in south Killeen (east of Highway 195), Harker Heights, and Nolanville. Four of the top five middle schools are also in those areas.

Elementary and middle schools in north Killeen (north of Interstate 14/Highway 190) and west Killeen (west of Highway 195) have not fared as well, receiving mostly Cs, Ds and Fs, according to Children at Risk’s scores. Four of the lowest ranked elementary and middle schools are in north Killeen (north of Interstate 14/Highway 190) and west Killeen (west of 195).

However, KISD has stood firm, saying that high mobility rates are the biggest reason the district did not fare well on the Children at Risk’s statewide school rankings.

In a statement released Wednesday, KISD’s Superintendent John Craft said, “The Killeen Independent School District has one of the highest mobility rates in the state, and failing to track the graduation rates of students who leave the state and graduate from high schools within another state will continue to have an impact on the results associated with the “Children at Risk” study. The Killeen ISD graduation rate as reported by the most recent Texas academic performance report exceeds both the State and Region graduation rates,” Craft said.

While KISD’s spokesman Shannon Rideout and board member Minerva Trujillo have agreed with Craft’s statement previously, Children at Risk’s results showed that all six KISD campuses at Fort Hood received largely As and Bs. Fort Hood currently has five elementary schools and one middle school on post.

Audie Murphy middle school and Clear Creek Elementary school, both on Fort Hood — have continued to fare well as the district’s top elementary and middle school.

Online readers left hundreds of comments on the Herald’s Facebook page criticizing the district’s ratings. One of the biggest concerns readers voiced online was the three F grades KISD high schools received. Six of KISD’s schools received an F grade, including Ellison, Shoemaker and Killeen high schools.

On Wednesday, Craft said in a statement that the evaluation criteria used by private independent groups doesn’t meet statewide standards and should not be taken as an appropriate grading scale.

“The Killeen Independent School District does not track the release of the independent study results published by the private entity, ‘Children at Risk.’ This report remains a private organization’s analysis. However, it is noteworthy that Killeen ISD high schools received similar letter grades as other high schools across the state with similar military-­­connectedness and mobility rates,” Craft said.

Craft also added that the district has not made plans to make major changes to its policies, procedures, or curriculum as a result of this report.

“The results of this study will not be used to drive school improvement.” Craft said. “Preparing all of our students for academic excellence remains a priority of the district regardless of the independent study’s results. Our goal remains to provide exceptional instruction that enables students to reach their maximum learning potential.”

CHILDREN AT RISK RESPONSES

On Friday, Children at Risk spokeswoman Claire Treacy explained what constitutes an F grade in the organization’s evaluations.

“An “F” grade campus is a school that is performing in the bottom 25 percent of all schools across Texas,” Treacy said. “That means that there is low achievement and low growth at these schools — even when they are compared to other schools with similar levels of poverty. An “F” graded campus may not even have a minimum number of students doing reading and math on grade level and is performing very poorly compared to other schools with similar levels of poverty.”

Treacy said similar military connected districts have performed on a similar level to KISD this year.

“We do not include mobility in our school rankings calculations. However, poverty and mobility are closely related and we do account for high levels of poverty at a campus by comparing how a school is performing with other schools with similar levels of poverty.”

THE CRITERIA

The rankings evaluate various criteria, including: student achievement on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness reading and math tests, campus performance, growth index and college readiness (high school students).

The organization said the study aims to “generate conversations not just about the data used in the ranking, but around how schools and districts are performing overall in creating college-ready students.”

254-501-7568 | quinton@kdhnews.com

(7) comments

timebandid

correction on previous post. --- The teachers promised to supply class outlines, but never did as they had promised. How are we, as parents to help educate our children when we are left in the dark as to what they are suppose to be studying or don't even have access to those study materials?

timebandid

There are many problems with our school district. The biggest issue is lack of discipline. The district is adverse to disciplining a minority student because, heaven forbid, they should be accused of prejudice or bigotry! This year my student has come home and related both verbal abuse and physical abuse she had witnessed without any real discipline to follow. And we wonder why it continues to escalate? Go figure? Also, the instruction is faulty. My middle school student was not allowed to even bring her books home from school. How is she suppose to study? little to no homework was even assigned. When we asked two of her teachers for class outlines, they promised to supply them. this continued for months on end. How are parents suppose to support the teacher and their children's education when we are left in the dark? There is plenty of money in this district but little education.

Love Our Planet

I am curious as to how this evaluation was done without current test results? It states that it uses the STAAR results as one of its major factors. The STAAR results have not yet been released. Am I missing something? Is this last year's evaluation? How are we coming to these answers without all the pertinent information needed?

Also, if we spent our money more wisely we'd likely improve our results! Million dollar signs WILL NOT IMPROVE THIS! Really, what will people say when they visit us? "Hey look at their beautiful sign! I think I want my kids to go to school here!" Hint: They won't care about our sign one little bit! They will care about our evaluations and grades and test scores though!

Love Our Planet

A huge problem in KISD is accountability! There is literally no accountability for the teacher/student relationship. These students don't complete their assignments on time, or at all, and the teachers don't say anything. Unless the parent steps up and says something to the teacher nothing will get done until it's too late! The teachers will respond to parent emails, so it's extremely important to start emailing teachers early and often to build a relationship with the teachers! Basically, it's time for all of adults to step up our game. These children are our future! It really does take a village to raise our children. If you see kids slipping...SAY SOMETHING!

user4574

Even though there is a correlation between school performance and money, we must also remember that it's the behavior of the students' parents that influence the students' performance. The parents need to push their children to study in these lower income areas is diminished, if not non-existent compared to the schools east of hwy. 195 as mentioned in the article. Although the lower performing schools do have a handful of hard working students, they're overshadowed by kids whose parents use KISD as an eight hour daycare center

Love Our Planet

I agree with you! So many parents think of school as free daycare. Then the kids go home and to their next babysitter...a video game, phone, tablet, YouTube, or some other electronic device. I'm really not sure why so many parents don't take their job as parent/raiser of the future/ molder a new life more seriously. A huge problem in our schools is accountability! There is literally no accountability for the teacher/student relationship. These students don't complete their assignments on time, or at all, and the teachers don't say anything. The teachers will respond to parent emails, so it's extremely important to start emailing teachers early and often.

eyewatchingu

Guess they can no longer blame the army because of the F Grade. Hmm once again Mrs Teel called it right, the fact of low poverty in our area, brings our system down, low poverty!!! Poverty not just includes how much money your family has, it includes, QUILATY of LIFE and that includes, Jobs, access to grocery stores, pharmacies, Trees, grass and so on.
quoted from article “An “F” grade campus is a school that is performing in the bottom 25 percent of all schools across Texas,” Treacy said. “That means that there is low achievement and low growth at these schools — even when they are compared to other schools with similar levels of poverty. An “F” graded campus may not even have a minimum number of students doing reading and math on grade level and is performing very poorly compared to other schools with similar levels of poverty.”
Treacy said similar military connected districts have performed on a similar level to KISD this year.
“We do not include mobility in our school rankings calculations. However, poverty and mobility are closely related and we do account for high levels of poverty at a campus by comparing how a school is performing with other schools with similar levels of poverty.”

Guess we can waste tax payer money on dividing Killeen more and more. Instead of all working togather and getting rid of groups and programs that actually divid communities and value score boards because Mrs Fleming and many other Democrats in this area believe that your children of Killeen tx only have one way out and that, because your kid is not smart enough to think. We need a new Council Woman one that is going to speak out for the parents in these schools and not speaical interest groups, these groups are killing our high schools, and know they want to put this into our Private schools. I say hell no, not my job to pay to put a child in a private school so they can play football, because Mrs Fleming thinks the Kids will get better money offers for playing ball.
I hope we test each and ever kid up for free money for private school and I hope they have to just like Mrs Teel pass the test in the top 10% to get in.

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