Still a game

RISD ‘unacceptable’ ratings part of annual number crunching

By now everyone knows Rockdale High School and Rockdale Junior-High School were assessed “unacceptable” ratings in the annual school assessments from The Texas Education Association (TEA).

The elementary and intermediate were “recognized,” while the school district as a whole was “acceptable.”

By now pretty much everyone is accustomed to the annual ritual. The ratings come out, every one that’s perceived as bad is explained and every one that’s perceived as good is run up the rhetorical flagpole and saluted.

After more than a decade, chances are pretty good most Texans have come to accept the annual reports pretty much for what they are, attempts to quantify the ultimate question for parents and guardians. “Am I sending my kid to a good school?”

To answer that question the TEA gives an annual test called TAKS—although that will change next term—but does not rank schools and campuses based solely on how many students pass or fail.

To ensure districts are educating all students, it also factors in the performance of racial and economic groups. Schools can, and many do, miss getting good “report cards” simply by the numerical ups and downs of very small groups of students in these groups.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened to Rockdale High School this time around. One student was incorrectly coded into the wrong racial sub group. Had that coding been entered correctly, the RHS rating would have been acceptable.

And there are always all kinds of wild cards. For instance, if the kind of scoring system that was in effect last year had continued in 2011, RISD would have had three campuses rated “recognized,” one “acceptable” and the district as a whole would have been “recognized.”

Bottom line. It’s still a game. But probably, pretty much everyone in Texas knows that already.—M.B.

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2011-08-04 digital edition

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