West U.’s Schools Maintain State Ratings

November 13, 2009

West University Elementary, Pershing Middle School and Lamar High School are each holding strong with the same state accountability rating they earned last year.

West U. Elementary is again Exemplary as it has been for the past five years, Pershing Middle School has kept its Acceptable rank for the same time period, and Lamar High School will continue as Recognized as it was last year. Before that, Lamar was considered Acceptable.

The ratings are the state’s way of letting parents and the community know how their schools are performing.

“A lot of times [parents] may know how their student is doing, but as far as overall educating the students, [the rating] provides the public with a way of knowing how their school is doing,” said TEA spokeswoman Suzanne Marchman.

West U. Elementary

The TEA evaluated West U. Elementary based on its students’ performance on the annual Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, considering the performance of all students as well as break out groups for African Americans, Hispanics, whites and economically disadvantaged students.

Students in each group performed very well, with 99 percent passing all of the tested subjects. The school also won five out of seven Gold Performance Acknowlegements, in which the state considers accomplishments well above the required minimum.

The TEA acknowledged West U. Elementary because very high percentages of students earned commended scores on their TAKS tests for reading and English, math, writing and science. The school was acknowledged because 256 students reached the top 25 percent in the state for their reading and English scores.

The school needs a tiny amount of work to improve its attendance rate. It was just 0.2 percentage points away from earning an acknowledgement for attendance.

Pershing Middle School

For the fifth strait year, Pershing Middle School was rated as Acceptable.

The TEA evaluated the school based on its students’ performance on the annual Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test, considering the performance of all students as well as break out groups for African Americans, Hispanics, whites and economically disadvantaged students. The rating is also based on the number of 7th and 8th graders who dropped out of school.

To meet the “Acceptable” designation, middle schools must have less than 2 percent of students dropping out. From a total of 1,259 students, Pershing had just four students drop out of school during the 2007 to 2008 school year, which represents 0.3 percent of the student population. This is an improvement from the previous year when drop outs numbered 7 students, representing 0.6 percent of the school population.

Pershing could have reached the “Recognized” rating this year, but some student groups performed poorly on the science portion of their TAKS tests. African American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students are not passing the test at the required level for the school to be “Recognized.” The school must work to get at least 75 percent of students in these groups to pass the science exam.

In another type of evaluation, the TEA awarded Pershing with two out of eight Gold Performance Acknowledgements for students reaching accomplishments beyond the state-required minimum.

The school was commended for its attendance rate because at least 96 percent of students in all demographic groups attended school during the 2007 to 2008 school year. The TEA also acknowledged Pershing because at least 30 percent of students in all groups had commended performances on their reading and English exams.

Pershing failed to gain acknowledgments for students reaching commended performance levels on their TAKS mathematics, writing, science and social studies exams.

Lamar High School

Lamar High School in 2009 has successfully kept its Recognized rating after jumping up to that level in 2008. Before that, Lamar was considered Acceptable.

To earn the Recognized rank, at least 75 percent of students in all demographic groups must pass each section of the TAKS test.

The school would have slid back to the Acceptable rating this year because four student groups didn’t reach a 75 percent passage rate. Not enough African American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students passed their math exams. Not enough economically disadvantaged students passed their science exam.

The TEA awarded the Recognized rank anyways because of the Texas Performance Measure, a new accountability standard that the agency put into effect this year. In the past, even if most students performed at the Recognized level, a school’s rank would still be Acceptable if just one student group performed poorly on just one exam subject. The new Texas Projection Measure helps schools overcome that scenario.

“If they could show there was improvement from one year to the next despite the fact they didn’t clear that hurdle,” Marchman said. “That growth proves they’re not ignoring the needs of those students. They’re making progress.”

The TEA rating is also based on the number of 9th graders who progressed all the way through high school to graduate in 2008. To be Recognized, a school must have a 75 percent completion rate, and Lamar High School’s rate was 92 percent.

In another type of evaluation, the TEA awarded Lamar with four out of 14 Gold Performance Acknowledgements, which consider student accomplishments above the state-mandated minimum.

The school earned three acknowledgements because students received high scores on their social studies, reading and English and math exams. High percentages of students also met requirements for a Recommended High School Program, which earned the school another commendation.

To earn more acknowledgements, Lamar must improve students TAKS scores in reading and English, math and science. The school also needs to improve its attendance rate, the number of students enrolled in advanced and dual placement courses, and the scores of students taking the SAT and ACT exams.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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