EDUCATION

Six of the Killeen school district’s 54 campuses received scores in the 60s on the recent Texas Education Agency accountability assessment.

These scores could mean consequences for the district if the schools with low grades don’t earn higher scores on the 2019 evaluations when campuses will be assigned a letter grade, according to state education officials.

In the recent 2018 assessment, campuses and districts were assigned number scores based on three areas of criteria, including student achievement, school progress and “closing the gaps,” which tracks achievement in certain student groups.

Individual campuses were designated as having “Met Standards” or “Improvement Required,” regardless of whatever number score was earned.

While all KISD campuses “Met Standard” this year and none received a failing score, six schools scattered throughout the district, received scores between 60 and 69, the range that would be a D if letters had been assigned this year.

These schools are Rancier and Palo Alto Middle Schools, Pathways Academic Campus and West Ward, Brookhaven and Iduma Elementary Schools, may have “Met Standard” this year but campuses will be analyzed more in-depth during the 2019 assessment.

Parents can look into this year’s campus and district grades at https://txschools.org/, including specific results of each area of the assessment.

Letter grades mandated

House Bill 22, passed in late 2017, mandates that the Texas Education Agency undergo a staggered grading process of campuses and districts across the state, beginning with letter grades for districts in 2019.

As a result of that legislation, campuses will also be given a letter grade in next year’s assessment.

Texas Education Agency officials said the grades and corresponding point ranges will be:

A: Above 90

B: 80-89

C: 70-79

D: 60-69

F: 59 and below

“While F is failing, a campus that receives a D could possibly face some corrective actions,” said DeEtta Culbertson, a communications representative with the state education agency.

Taylor Callahan, a spokesperson with the agency said that although scores each year are assessed previously of separate years, the level of corrective action depends on how many years in a row a campus has received a low score. She said that even a campus receiving a low score for the first time could be subject to intervention.

“There are intervention processes that districts go through to make sure students are learning in that environment,” Callahan said.

This means that unless those six KISD campuses can earn a score above 69 on the 2019 assessment, the schools will be assigned a D and the district could be subject to intervention.

“Those (interventions) could include a corrective action plan, campus leadership team, personal services provider, etc,” Culbertson said of the possible ramifications.

She said these interventions can range from a targeted improvement plan that addresses deficiencies within the campus to a broad-based leadership team that would conduct and monitor activities within the district to ensure improvement.

Culbertson said the Texas Education Agency can also send a personal services provider to districts with low-scoring campuses that would act as an extension of the state agency to ensure those districts are engaging in interventions to improve campuses.

KISD’s response

A majority of KISD schools were rated within the equivalent of the C range during this year’s assessment, with 24 schools earning number scores between 70 and 79.

A total of 17 schools scored between 80 and 89, or the equivalent of B grade. Two schools in the district, the Early College High School and Clear Creek Elementary, earned a score above 90, or an “A.”

“The main focus is student academic growth for all students across all campuses,” said Terry Abbott, KISD chief communications officer, when asked about the district’s plans to maintain high scores while raising lower scores. “Identifying strengths and challenges of each individual campus allows the district support to be customized for individual campuses.”

He said KISD already has campus leadership teams in place and that these teams help to create individualized campus improvement plans.

“The district leadership department in conjunction with the curriculum and instruction department support each campus in this continuous improvement process and development of strategies to increase student achievement,” Abbott said in an email Sept. 5.

He said KISD has added staff at schools to support continuous learning, but that the district is focusing on the quality of a well-rounded education rather than just single-score indicators.

“When we deliver that kind of great education, which we strive to do every day, those single score indicators will take care of themselves,” Abbott said in an email Sept. 6.

Copperas Cove

All Copperas Cove campuses earned scores of 70 or above on this year’s statewide assessment, meaning none of the schools earned anything less than the equivalent of a C.

Hettie Halstead Elementary earned a 90, the equivalent of an A grade.

“Our responsibility is to maintain the focus on student success and create meaningful learning opportunities for every student on every campus in every program,” said CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns of the district’s plan to maintain the scores.

Burns also said the accountability assessment doesn’t reflect all student accolades, certifications and early college credit achievement.

“The evolving environment of how the state of Texas defines success for our students is a challenge we are constantly analyzing,” he said.

Other districts

None of Belton ISD’s 15 schools earned a score in the 60s or the D range.

Three campuses - Lakewood, Sparta and Tarver Elementary schools - earned ratings in the 90s.

This was the only other school district in the immediate area with campuses that received scores within the A range.

Belton ISD Superintendent Susan Kincannon said the district is proud of how students performed on state assessment tests as these scores are factored in to campus scores, but that the ratings are only one measure of student success.

“The district will continue to focus on student achievement across all subjects and will use the accountability data to continue to refine instructional plans for next year,” Kincannon said.

Other districts in the area could be in hot water come the 2019 assessment.

One Lampasas school, three in Gatesville and two schools in Florence earned ratings in the 60s.

If those schools earn a D on next year’s assessment that could potentially mean consequences for the districts.

Representatives for these districts had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

The TEA will release the next set of accountability scores, including campus letter grades, in August 2019.

kfarmer@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7568

kfarmer@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7557

Educational Reporter

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