By Rebecca LaFlure

Killeen Daily Herald

The Killeen Independent School District's campus accountability ratings improved overall this year, according to data released by the Texas Education Agency Friday.

But it wasn't all good news. Harker Heights High School's rating dropped to academically unacceptable this year for the first time in its history.

"I feel overall we're pleased with our accountability ratings, particularly on the academic side," KISD Superintendent Robert Muller said Friday. "We showed gains in science, social studies, math and writing. The one area that looks like a bit of a challenge for us is the (high school) completion rate."

State accountability ratings are released every year, and based on student performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, high school completion or dropout rates and school attendance. Districts and individual campuses can be given one of four ratings, including exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable or academically unacceptable.

District-wide, the Killeen Independent School District maintained its academically acceptable rating this year.

The state rated six Killeen schools exemplary, four more than in 2008. They include Clifton Park, Nolanville, Venable Village, Maxdale, Oveta Culp Hobby and Timber Ridge Elementary Schools.

Twenty-three received a recognized rating, compared to 19 last year. Fifteen schools were rated academically acceptable, including Killeen, Shoemaker and Ellison High Schools.

Harker Heights High School was the only academically unacceptable campus. In 2008, there were none.

Muller said HHHS received the low rating because of a significant decrease in its high school completion rate for economically disadvantaged students. Only 73.4 percent of economically disadvantaged students from the class of 2008 completed high school, compared with 80.9 percent last year.

The high school completion rate for all students at HHHS decreased only slightly, from 89.8 percent to 89.1 percent. District-wide, KISD's completion somewhat improved, from 84.9 percent to 85.7 percent.

Statewide trend

Harker Heights High School's rating drop reflected a statewide trend this year. According to TEA, 270 campuses were given the lowest rating, compared with 202 in 2008. This is the highest number of academically unacceptable campuses since 2002. Eighty-seven districts were given an overall academically unacceptable rating compared to 32 in 2008 – the highest its been in the history of the Texas accountability system. Forty-eight districts and 63 campuses received this rating solely because of their completion rates.

"School districts were given two years to adjust to the new, more rigorous dropout definition," Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said in a statement Friday. "Many districts stepped up and worked hard to reduce the number of students who would otherwise have dropped out. Because districts are being fully accountable for their dropouts, the new definition has resulted in lower ratings for some districts and schools."

For the upcoming school year, Muller said KISD intends to maintain its performance in reading writing and social studies, continue improvement in math and science and address the high school completion rate.

He plans to launch an appeal to the TEA to change HHHS's rating.

"We identified some students who were completers, but weren't reported that way," Muller said. "We're being optimistic. We hope the agency will see it our way."

Copperas Cove ISD

District-wide, Copperas Cove Independent School District was rated academically acceptable this year – a bump down from last year's recognized rating. Though the district made great gains in the majority of its subject areas, its decreased high school completion rate brought down the district's overall rating, said Superintendent Rose Cameron said.

"It's disappointing, but I want to make sure the teachers know their hard work paid off," Cameron said Friday. "Kids are excelling and succeeding in all areas… The completion rate got us this year, but we'll work to make sure it doesn't happen again."

The good news is CCISD received three exemplary ratings this year, compared with two in 2008. These schools include CR Clements/Hollie Parsons Elementary School, Mae Stevens Elementary and Martin Walker Elementary.

Four schools – Copperas Cove Junior High, Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary School, Hettie Halstead Elementary and J L Williams/Lovett Ledger Elementary – are recognized.

Copperas Cove High School and SC Lee Junior High were rated academically acceptable. No schools in CCISD were academically unacceptable this year.

Like many districts across the state, CCISD's high school completion rate decreased this year, from 91.2 percent to 86.4 percent. The completion rate expecially plummeted for Hispanic students, from 91.2 percent to 78.6 percent.

Belton ISD

The Belton Independent School District also did well in state ratings released Friday. Nine of the 12 Belton ISD schools are rated exemplary or recognized.

Belton ISD received an overall rating of acceptable, although it was recognized on 28 out of 29 indicators, missing recognized status by a small margin.

Superintendent Vivian Baker said, "We continue to improve because of the hard work of our talented team of teachers, principals and curriculum leaders who provide the resources, curriculum planning, and best possible instruction for every child to excel. We thank our hardworking teachers and students for their commitment to teaching and learning. Our goal is to continue to work with all educators, parents and the community to achieve our high goal of preparing students to excel in tomorrow's world. It will take continued dedication and hard work from the Belton ISD team."

State-wide, the number of exemplary schools increased from 1,000 last year to 2,151 in 2009 – the highest its been since 2002, according to TEA.

The number of schools that achieved a recognized rating also rose in 2009, from 2,819 campuses to 2,930. Slightly more than one-third of Texas schools and districts earned this rating.

Accountability ratings for all Texas districts can be found at:

Killeen ISD

District: Academically Acceptable

Exemplary: Clifton Park Elementary, Nolanville Elementary, Venable Village Elementary, Maxdale Elementary, Oveta Culp Elementary, Timber Ridge Elementary

Recognized: Liberty Hill Middle School, East Ward Elementary, Fowler Elementary, Harker Heights Elementary, Meadows Elementary, Peebles Elementary, Sugar Loaf Elementary, West Ward Elementary, Bellaire Elementary, Clarke Elementary, Duncan Elementary, Hay Branch Elementary, Mountain View Elementary, Reeces Creek Elementary, Clear Creek Elementary, Cedar Valley Elementary, Brookhaven Elementary, Trimmier Elementary, Montague Village Elementary, Ira Cross Elementary, Iduma Elementary, Saegert Elementary, Skipcha Elementary

Academically Acceptable: Killeen High School, Ellison High School, Shoemaker High School, Fairway Middle School, Nolan Middle School, Rancier Middle School, Manor Middle School, Smith Middle School, Eastern Hills Middle School, Palo Alto Middle School, Live Oak Middle School, Union Grove Middle School, Audie Murphy Middle School, Pershing Park Elementary, Willow Springs Elementary

Academically Unacceptable: Harker Heights High School

AEA Academically Acceptable: Bell County Juvenile Detention Center, Pathways Learning Center

Not rated: Killeen JJAEP, Haynes School, Metroplex School, Alternative Learning Center

Copperas Cove ISD

District: Academically Acceptable

Exemplary: Clements/Parsons Elementary, Stevens Elementary, Walker Elementary

Recognized: Copperas Cove Junior High, Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary, Hettie Halstead Elementary, Williams/Ledger Elementary.

Academically Acceptable: Copperas Cove High School, SC Lee Junior High

AEA Academically Acceptable: Crossroads High School

Belton ISD

District: Academically Acceptable

Exemplary: Leon Heights Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, Sparta Elementary, Tarver Elementary

Recognized: Miller Heights Elementary, Pirtle Elementary, Southwest Elementary, Tyler Elementary, and Belton High

Academically Acceptable: Belton Middle School, Lake Belton Middle School

AEA Academically Acceptable: Waskow High School

Not rated: Bell County JJAEP


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