By Wendy Gragg
Killeen Daily Herald
Local school districts have met federal expectations for another year, but it wasnt without a fight.
Data released by the Texas Education Agency Friday gives both Killeen and Copperas Cove independent school districts an academic thumbs-up and labels them as Meets Adequate Yearly Progress.
Both school districts and several campuses within might have missed the mark, though, were it not for appeals made to the state.
The federal Adequate Yearly Progress report, created as part of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, evaluates school districts and individual campuses by holding student performance in language arts and math to federal standards. In Texas, AYP is based mostly on performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.
To meet the federal standard, at least 33 percent of students in six groups Hispanic, black, Anglo, low-income, special-education and limited-English-proficient must pass the TAKS math test and at least 47 percent must pass the reading portion.
Other indicators that affect AYP are high school graduation rate (which must be 70 percent) and elementary and middle school attendance rate (which must be 90 percent).
Copperas Cove ISD and all its campuses met AYP for 2004, but only after winning six appeals the district made to the state earlier in the year.
Dr. Rose Cameron, Copperas Cove ISD deputy superintendent, said each of the appeals had to do with the school exceeding the 1 percent cap on the number of special education students allowed to take off-grade level assessments. Cameron said the administration is pleased with the ratings and felt confident from the beginning their appeals would be accepted.
Cameron said the AYP system, and particularly the 1 percent rule, need to be tweaked.
You cant just make everything a standard because we all serve different kids, she said.
Copperas Cove ISD isnt alone in its struggle with the 1 percent rule.
Killeen school district met AYP this year, but six campuses did not. Pathways Learning Center missed AYP because of its graduation rate, but the other five schools earned a missed AYP due to exceeding the 1 percent cap of off-level assessments in math or reading or both.
Harker Heights High School missed AYP because it exceeded the 1 percent in math tests. Palo Alto Middle School also missed AYP in math assessments. Manor Middle School and Eastern Hills Middle School missed AYP due to an excess of off-level assessments in reading and math. Reeces Creek Elementary School passed the 1 percent in reading exams.
The ratings for these campuses could still change, though. KISD officials said Thursday that TEA has agreed to re-evaluate the appeals of the five schools and should render a decision by late next week.
KISD appealed the AYP ratings of a total of 17 schools this year.
KISD officials and CCISDs Cameron have made known their concerns about the 1 percent rule, which was just added to the AYP mix this year. In the question of compliance with the rule, both school districts have stressed their No. 1 priority is meeting the needs of the students in question.
Its not so much that we dodged a bullet, Cameron said. We are going to make the best decision for the students we have.
Contact Wendy Gragg at firstname.lastname@example.org