News

Poor ratings still dogging RISD

Two campuses land on state’s ‘transfer-out’ list

It’s not the kind of list you want to make.

Rockdale High School and Rockdale Junior-High School have been named on the state’s 2013-2014 Public Education Grant (PEG) List, a group of Texas’ lowest performing schools.

The list was released Thursday.

Exactly what the consequences are isn’t clear. Students in PEG schools are supposed to be eligible to transfer out of them.

But that’s also the case now with most places in the state, although there are differing standards on how districts may accept, or reject, transfer students.

It’s not unexpected. The PEG list is based on the same state test scores Rockdale ISD has been dealing with in recent years.

And for more than a year the RISD has had what amounts to an out-of-district monitor, Dr. Nancy Vaughn, who heads up a Campus Improvement Team charged with improving the district’s standardized test scores and getting Rockdale off lists like the PEG.

But, how to get off the lists?

PERPLEXED—That’s the question which perplexes local educators, including Supt. Dr. Howell Wright.

In 2011, Rockdale High School and Rockdale Junior-High School were ranked “unacceptable” in the annual school ratings released by the Texas Education Agency.

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

And those 2011 scores are also what landed the two campuses on the PEG list released Thursday.

Getting off the list is going to be more difficult. Due to the changeover to the new STAAR tests, there was no assessment released in 2012.

And, with the legislature meeting and school topics sure to be discussed, there is already talk that 2013 assessments may be skipped too.

“How do we get off the list? There wasn’t a ‘state report card’ (test scores) in 2012 and there may not be one this year,” Dr. Wright said.

TRANSFERS—What the PEG list is supposed to be all about is giving students on lowly-ranked campuses opportunities to transfer into better ranked schools.

That may be feasible in large cities with many campuses in the same district but in smalltown Texas it’s a different story.

“With districts in such competition for students (revenue), anyone pretty much has the option to transfer now, in most circumstances,” Dr. Wright said.

He said few districts now charge out-of-district tuition.

ASSESSMENT—Many educators are asking the state to reassess its now ingrained policy of using just one test to rate a campus or district.

“The idea has been floated to use a variety of indexes instead of basing everything on one test,” Dr. Wright said. “There’s more than one way to measure accountability. There’s a difference between accountability and assessment.”

Statewide, there are 456 campuses on the PEG List, down from 566 in 2012.

The two Rockdale campuses were the only schools in Milam County to make the 2013-2014 Peg List.

The list was created in 1995 by the Texas Legislature.


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