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Wood County superintendents respond to new TEA rating system
08/22/2018

With a new rating system in place, Texas school districts received A through F grades from the Texas Education Agency.


TEA says the district report cards grade districts on student performance on standardized tests, how well students are prepared for college or military and how well districts close the performance gaps between various groups.


The new grading system was met with mixed reactions from across the state, including those in Wood County. Alba-Golden, Hawkins, Mineola, Quitman and Winnsboro all received a B on their “report cards” while Yantis earned a D. 


The new rating system is supposed to be more transparent and easier for parents to understand. Superintendents argue that statistics are being pushed into one misleading letter grade by TEA.

Quitman ISD Superintendent Rhonda Turner is among many school administrators who disagree with the TEA’s new methods.
“Not every child will be a good test-taker, and not every good test-taker will be a success in life,” Turner said. “I join the majority of my colleagues by saying our kids are more than a test! Quitman ISD received a B (84), and we will certainly strive to increase that, but we will do so only in a manner that does not disrupt or impede the overall development of our children.”
During the 2017 legislative session, three categories were chosen to determine the grade: student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps.

According to txschools.org, student achievement means how well the students did on their STAAR tests, graduation rates and preparation for life after high school. School progress shows how students perform over time and in comparison to other districts .Closing the gaps means how different populations in the district are performing.
The score is calculated as 70 percent for the student achievement and school progress categories. The state only counts the better score of the two categories. Closing the gaps is the remaining 30 percent.

Alba-Golden
Alba-Golden ISD received 84 out of 100 for its rating. In the student achievement section, the district earned an 85. In the school progress section, the district earned an 81. In the closing the gaps section, the district earned an 81. Each individual school met the standard.

AGISD Superintendent Dwayne Ellis said the school is pleased with its first report card.  

“With all of the anticipation that surrounded this topic we were pleased to see that the moves we had made with our personnel has paid off,” Ellis said. “We have really concentrated on student growth and closing the gaps at the earliest age possible. I am very pleased with the hard work put in by our teaching staff, our support staff and our administration.”  
“As you will hear from so many superintendents, one letter grade is not representative of our district,” Ellis said.  “We see the hard work that goes into educating our children on a daily basis. TEA only sees it through scores. We have a lot of room to improve and we will work hard to do so. Great job Alba-Golden.”


Hawkins
Hawkins ISD received 87 out of 100 for its rating. In the student achievement section, the district earned an 82. In the school progress section, the district earned a 89. In the closing the gaps section, the district earned an 81. Each individual school met the standard.

Hawkins Superintendent Morris Lyon expressed his pride in the growth of the school district’s academics and staff.
“Hawkins ISD is very proud of the tremendous growth and success of our students in our academic, athletic and extracurricular programs. We are also very proud of our outstanding staff and the commitment they have for our students and community,” Lyon said. “We have so many wonderful things happening at HISD, which makes it hard to quantify it all to just one area or one grade. We are on our way to accomplishing our vision, which is, to be the model of a learner-centered school through coaching, caring, teamwork and effort. We look forward to the 2018-2019 school year. It is a great day to be a Hawk!”


Mineola
Mineola ISD earned an overall score of 83 out of 100 and a grade of B. Each campus – high school, middle school, elementary school and primary school – received a passing grade.
In the category of student achievement, the district scored 77 for a C. Under the category of school progress, Mineola ISD fared well with 89 points for a B. The district earned a score of 69 for a D in the category of closing the gaps.
In a statement, Mineola ISD Superintendent Kim Tunnell said the district does not regard the TEA grades as an accurate reflection of the district.

“Our goal and mission in Mineola ISD is to personalize learning for each child focused on his/her continuous academic, social, and emotional growth. While the data from these state reports provides us with information related to state testing, we refuse to let an accountability system based upon one measure define our identity in Mineola ISD. We do not embrace or recognize a rating or grading of our schools using this narrow indicator of the one day STAAR performance. This single letter grade does not measure the quality of our educational program for our students nor the instructional quality provided by our dedicated staff; it does not accurately assess the wide variety of factors that are unique to our district and schools. Mineola ISD will continue to use multiple measures to determine the success of our students. Our focus remains in providing a high quality education that far exceeds the limited parameters of this state accountability system. Our schools are so much more than one test, and our students are so much more than one score.”

 
Quitman 
Quitman ISD received 83 out of 100 for its rating. In the student achievement section, the district earned an 83. In the school progress section, the district earned a 82. In the closing the gaps section, the district earned an 84. Each individual school met the standard.
Turner said providing a well-rounded education is the most important job for Quitman teachers, not being compared against other schools.

“Mark Twain said, ‘Comparison is the death of joy’. Ironically as teachers are returning to classrooms and children are filled with excitement about seeing their friends, classmates, and teachers after summer break the release of the A-F system threatens to spoil that annual ritual for students across the State of Texas. Our focus at Quitman ISD is to continue to provide a well-rounded education to all of our students,” Turner said. “While we strive each year to increase the rigor of our curriculum and set high expectations for all of our students, we never want to lose sight that we are charged with the education of living and breathing human beings, not robots off of a factory line.”


Winnsboro
Winnsboro ISD received 80 out of 100 for its rating. In the student achievement section, the district earned an 81. In the school progress section, the district earned a 78. In the closing the gaps section, the district earned a 78. Each individual school met the standard. 


Yantis
Yantis ISD received 69 out of 100 for its rating. In the student achievement section, the district earned a 73. In the school progress section, the district earned a 65. In the closing the gaps section, the district earned a 61. Each individual school met the standard. 

For more information on the schools, go to txschools.org and search for a Texas school district.

This article, written By HANK MURPHY & ZAK WELLERMAN, was published by the Wood County Monitor on August 22, 2018.  

Copyright © Alba Golden ISD  2016. All rights reserved.

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