Overall, Austin ISD met the Texas Education Agency's 2013 district standards for student achievement, student progress, postsecondary readiness and closing performance gaps, but not all individual schools in AISD met the standards, according to the TEA's accountability summary released Aug. 8.
The new ratings for districts and schools are based on a system using indicators to provide more detail on the performance of districts and individual campuses throughout Texas, according to the TEA. Schools could receive one of three ratings under the new accountability system: Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required. If a school did not meet all of the standards, it received an Improvement Required rating.
Eleven AISD schools did not meet all of the standards. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said about 110 schools met the standard, and 55 schools earned academic distinctions. She said she is proud of the work the district has done to transition from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, and the district has plans in place at the schools that need to improve.
"They all knew that this would be a struggle to make a successful transition, but we have not hesitated or slowed down our pace in ensuring that they have a solid plan that matches demographics and the needs of their particular schools," Carstarphen said.
Rodriguez Elementary School met standards on student achievement and closing performance gaps, but not on the student progress indicator, which shows improvements made independent of overall achievement levels. In Central Austin, Pearce and Garcia middle schools received Improvement Required ratings, having met the standards for the student progress indicator but not student achievement or closing performance gaps. Dobie Middle School also received an Improvement Required rating, meeting standards for student achievement and closing performance gaps but not student progress. Martin Middle School met achievement and progress standards, but not closing performance gaps. Travis County Day School did not meet standards on student achievement or postsecondary readiness, according to the TEA's summary.
Lanier and Travis high schools both received Improvement Required ratings, meeting the standards for student achievement, progress and closing performance gaps but not postsecondary readiness. LBJ High School also received an Improvement Required rating and did not meet standards in student progress or postsecondary readiness. Eastside Memorial High School met the standards for student achievement, progress and closing performance gaps but did not meet postsecondary readiness standards and received an overall Improvement Required rating.
The Rosedale School, which serves students with cognitive disabilities, also received an Improvement Required rating. Students there met standards on closing performance gaps, but not student achievement or postsecondary readiness. On the TEA's accountability summary for Rosedale, the student progress indicator was not listed. In a statement, AISD said: "Because of the nature of the [Rosedale] students' disabilities, most of the children were only able to participate in Level 1 tasks, which is the reason the school received the Improvement Required rating. This rule will no longer apply in 2014."
Carstarphen said the district already has plans for improvement in place for Eastside Memorial, Pearce and Garcia, among other schools.
She said there are plenty of reform options out there, but in general "they're not very popular," and community support is key.
"As you're trying to improve the health and the quality of a school, you're in a way improving the health and the quality of the community around it, and that takes a significant lift that isn't just the responsibility of the school district. It requires that the whole community [and] the city wrap their arms around that and help us make the lift. But it does take time if you want it to stick and stay for generations to come."
Carstarphen noted the district's performance numbers overall, including graduation rates, are at an all-time high. Akins, Anderson, Austin, Bowie, Crockett, McCallum and the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders were among the AISD high schools that met TEA standards.
All of Dripping Springs ISD's five school campuses met the TEA standards.
TEA surveyed 1,200 school districts and charters and more than 8,500 campuses and found almost 93 percent of school districts and charters throughout Texas achieved the rating of Met Standard. TEA has not released accountability ratings since it began the introduction of STAAR.
“A transition to a new accountability system comes with a great deal of uncertainty,” TEA Commissioner of Education Michael Williams said in a news release. “The 2013 ratings confirm that the vast majority of districts and campuses are meeting the state’s standards and providing a quality education for our students.”
Starting in 2014, the postsecondary readiness indicator will also include STAAR performance data at the postsecondary readiness standard.