News

RHS, junior-high ‘unacceptable’

District to appeal high school rating as clerical coding error
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor

Rockdale High School and Rockdale Junior-High School will be rated “unacceptable” when the annual Texas Education Agency “report cards” are released later this week.

It’s the first unacceptable rating in six years for an RISD campus and the first time ever that two campuses have failed to meet the annual standards.

Rockdale ISD as a whole was ranked “acceptable,” with the intermediate and elementary attaining “recognized” status.

The ratings are based mostly on TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) test scores.

ERROR—Supt. Dr. Howell Wright said the high school’s rating was triggered by a “clerical error.”

“The high school’s unacceptable rating was based on the math performance in the African American category,” Dr. Wright said.

“Somehow, last year, a student was incorrectly coded into our system as white when they should, in fact, have been coded African American,” he said.

“When you shift that student’s scores into the correct category, the high school’s rating goes from unacceptable to acceptable,” he said.

The district is appealing the RHS rating and should know the result in October.

“This coding error happened last year about this time when the district was in the process of changing principals,” Dr. Wright said. “That’s not an excuse. Obviously it shouldn’t have happened and we have processes in place to insure it won’t happen again.”

‘15-1 SEASON’—There won’t be an appeal at the junior-high where RJH came up short in test scores in both African-American and economically disadvantaged categories.

“I’ll take full responsibility. We need to be doing a better job educating students in those categories,” Dr. Wright said. “But so many of our scores actually improved over the past year at both of those campuses.”

He said at the high school, of the 20 categories the TEA uses for accountability ratings, RHS scores were in the highest division (exemplary), or second highest (recognized) in 15.

At the junior high, the scores were in the two highest divisions in 14 out of 20 categories.

“And we increased our number of students who are ranked ‘commended’ by the TEA for their performance,” Dr. Wright said.

“It’s like a football team that went 15-1 and then has their season judged by the one loss instead of the 15 wins,” he said.

“I don’t know of a business in the world that is rated on its lowest performance,” Dr. Wright added.

TPM—There’s more.

In recent assessments, a system called the Texas Projection Measure (TPM) has been in effect.

It basically cut schools some slack if they had been making progress in the TAKS score subgroups, moved the criteria from a number to a trend.

“That would have helped us on the ratings,” Dr. Wright said. “In fact, using the TPM, we would have had three recognized campuses, one acceptable campus and the district as a whole would have been recognized.”

But on April 22 the Commissioner of Education eliminated TPM from the rating process.

Bottom line. “We’re doing so many things well and there are so many positive numbers even in these TAKS scores which resulted in the unacceptable ratings,” Dr. Wright said.

“That’s not to make excuses,” he added. “We know we need to do some things better.”

STAAR— New challenges loom.

Schools will begin the more stringent State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test next term.

“We’ve had new tests instituted before, of course,” Dr. Wright said. “We’ve had TEAMS, TAAS and, of course, TAKS.”

“ Each time we’ve replaced one test with another it was the equivalent of ‘going up one level’,” he said.

“ STA AR is going to be like going up two levels,” Dr Wright said.

ROCKDALE ISD RATINGS

2011

RISD as district Acceptable
RHS Unacceptable
RJH Unacceptable
Intermediate Recognized
Elementary Recognized

2010

RISD as district Acceptable
RHS Acceptable
RJH Recognized
Intermediate Recognized
Elementary Recognized

RISD as district Acceptable
RHS Regognized
RJH Acceptable
Elementary Acceptable

(Intermediate did not open as separate campus until 2009-10)


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