RHS, RJH enter ‘sanctions’ era

Two Rockdale ISD campuses have entered an era of what amounts to academic sanctions imposed by the Texas Education Association (TEA) as the result of receiving “unacceptable” accountability ratings in August.

Meeting in regular session Monday in the Central Administration Building, trustees adopted a plan designed to get Rockdale Junior-High School and Rockdale High School off the TEA’s unacceptable list.

Board members also endorsed appointment of a TEA-selected monitor, okayed joining in a lawsuit over Texas school finances and heard two parents express concerns.

‘SERIOUS STUFF’—RJH was placed on the unacceptable list over TAKS science scores by Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students.

RHS got the rating due to its African American sub-group math score. That rating is being appealed by the district which maintains a coding error on one student was responsible.

Pam Kaufmann, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, conducted separate public hearings on plans for both campuses.

Detailed strategies include increased parental involvement, investigation of absences and, above all, gathering data and developing strategies for “interventions” to assist individual students.

Campus Intervention Teams (CIT) have been formed at each campus.

Dr. Nancy Vaughan has been assigned by the TEA to assist in the process.

Supt. Dr. Howell Wright said in order for the campuses to come off the unacceptable list a rating of acceptable or better will have to be earned for three consecutive years.

Texas is changing from TAKS to STARR testing and there will be no campus accountability ratings assessed in 2012.

Both RISD campuses are in the first year of unacceptable state ratings. If campuses remain unacceptable in future years, other requirements kick in. In the fifth year, nonperforming campuses could actually be closed.

“This is pretty serious stuff,” board president Lee Jenkins said.

CONCERNS—Board visitor Sarah Vreeland expressed concerns over the new “project based learning” approach in the ninthgrade academy.

Sandra Brooks told trustees she was concerned that homework was not being property explained to eighth graders.

Dr. Wright said every concern being expressed by the board visitors was being addressed. “This (project-based learning) is not something we want to be a frustrating event,” he said.

During the public hearing which followed, board members also made suggestions.

Jenkins asked about teacherparent communication and asked if teachers could be more diligent in posting grades on-line.

“ It seems like sometimes we’re halfway through the six weeks before we can find out the grades,” he said.

Board member Michelle Lehmkuhl asked if teachers could contact parents on a more regular basis. “I’ve contacted my child’s teachers but it needs to be a twoway street,” she said.

LAWSUIT—Board members, on a 6-0 vote, decided to join a class action lawsuit by several hundred ISDs statewide, seeking to have the current school finance law declared unconstitutional.

Districts maintain the plan, which was adopted during the summer by the state legislature, is inequitable and violates the Texas Constitution.

In other business, board membes accepted the following resignations:

• Karen Muston, RHS, effective Aug. 24.

• Tim Ramey, RJH, effective in December.

• Nancy Anton, Rockdale Intermediate, effective Oct. 12.

• Alan Schneider, transportation, effective Oct. 21.

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