By Candace Birkelbach

Killeen Daily Herald

Nine schools in the Killeen Independent School District were selected by Texas Monthly magazine among the best public schools in the state.

Six elementary schools from KISD were listed out of 477 in the state. Cedar Valley and Harker Heights elementary schools received high performance in science; Clifton Park and Nolanville Elementary Schools were listed for high performance in math; and Montague Village in science and Reeces Creek received high performance in writing.

Two middle schools out of 246 in the state were recognized.

Audie Murphy and Smith middle schools received high performance in math and social studies, respectively.

Ellison High School was the only one of four high schools in the district to be recognized for math out of 136 in the state.

To rank the schools, the National Center for Educational Accountability looks at student test results for the past three years to create the higher-performing schools list, according to an article on Texas Monthly's Web site.

Using NCEA's own College and Career Readiness benchmark as a measuring stick, the top 5 percent of schools are automatically included.

The rest are added because they perform better than predicted using statistical analysis, the article states.

For elementary schools, this means students in all grades perform better on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills than in similar elementary schools in the state. Middle schools and high schools are on the list because their students' academic growth on the TAKS is higher than previous years' test scores.

This is the second year For Texas Monthly to present the higher-performing schools in the subjects of reading, writing, math, science and social studies.

This is the fourth time for the magazine to publish a list of the top public schools in Texas.

Superintendent Jim Hawkins said he is pleased with the schools that were listed but that doesn't mean other schools also are not performing well.

"Its not the only definition of success," Hawkins said.

The state needs to take multiple measures to determine success, not just basing results on TAKS scores, he said.

The growth model this ranking uses is a real plus, Hawkins said.

"Its a whole lot better than the state system because it measures growth and adjusts for circumstances," he said. "This demonstrates that in a time of change, we need different kinds of accountability."

Contact Candace Birkelbach at or call (254) 501-7553

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