ABILENE, Texas – The Abilene ISD will receive an overall “B” rating for the second straight year when the Texas Education Agency releases its school district grades Thursday.
AISD superintendent Dr. David Young announced at a Wednesday afternoon press conference that the district’s overall grade was an 85 for the second straight year.
“We are proud of our district rating and believe it’s indicative of the quality work our teachers, staff and students do each day across the AISD,” Young said. “I appreciate so much each of our employees and what they do every day to enrich the lives of the children entrusted to us.”
In addition to the district and campus letter grades, several campuses throughout the district earned distinction designations, and those are:
- Abilene High School –Mathematics, Academic Growth, Post-Secondary Readiness
- ATEMS High School – Reading / ELA, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Academic Growth, Closing the Gap, Post-Secondary Readiness
- Cooper High School – Reading / ELA, Post-Secondary Readiness
- Clack Middle School – Science
- Craig Middle School – Mathematics
- Austin Elementary School – Science, Closing the Gap
- Bassetti Elementary School – Reading / ELA, Science
- Taylor Elementary School – Mathematics, Academic Growth
- Thomas Elementary School – Closing the Gap, Post-Secondary Readiness
The individual campus results were mixed with seven schools receiving either A or B grades, 10 with C grades, one with a D and four with F’s. Austin Elementary and ATEMS High School each earned A grades with ATEMS earning the district’s highest overall campus grade at 94 with Austin at 92.
Texas A-F accountability ratings look at three particular measures – Academic Growth, Relative Performance and Closing the Gaps. Academic Growth essentially boils down to ensuring that students do not slide backwards from one year to the next. The measure places an emphasis on ensuring that students who scored Masters Grade Level in the preceding year score Masters Grade Level in the current year, that students who scored Meets Grade Level in the preceding year score at least Meets Grade Level in the current year.
In the Relative Performance measure, the A-F system essentially asks: How impressive is the Student Achievement score of a campus or district given the percentage of economically disadvantaged students enrolled at the campus or district? The Closing the Gaps area engages in a detailed evaluation of the performance of up to 14 student groups. These groups are defined by race, students served in specialized programs, socio-economic level, and how mobile students are, or how frequently a student changes schools.
However, as he said last year when the rankings came out using letter grades for the first time, Dr. Young said he doesn’t believe they accurately reflect the work taking place on campuses throughout the district because “it depends on a single measure taken on a single day utilizing the STAAR assessment.”
“While standardized test scores are an indicator of student achievement, they are not the indicator of student achievement and could never tell the whole story,” Young said. “Our teachers do great work. I’ve seen it over and over again on every campus in the AISD. The story of the AISD won’t be bound to a letter grade; our story is much deeper than a letter grade on a sheet of paper. What I know is that campuses that earned a D or F rating have great things happening daily on their campuses, and campuses that earned A or B ratings have areas of growth and improvement that need to be addressed as well.”
Campuses that received an F Rating will walk through a rigorous improvement process that specifically targets closing the achievement gap and ensuring that all students on campus make one or more year’s worth of academic growth during the school year. Dr. Dan Dukes, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, will oversee this process.
“Whenever we have campuses struggling with state accountability results, it becomes an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ situation,” Dukes said. “It’s really no different than what you would do in a family when one family member is struggling. You rally together and see what you can do to support. In AISD, we are all going to roll up our sleeves and work directly with the four campuses that will go through the rigorous improvement process to raise student achievement. We will be partnering with Region 14 Education Service Center throughout this process to examine our results and implement best practices where needed.”
Dukes also mentioned that he will be looking at the district’s overall curriculum and instruction plan.
“The main thing the current accountability system is focused on is whether or not a student makes one or more year’s worth of academic growth during the year,” he said. “Every parent wants to know that their child is making sufficient growth during the school year, regardless if their child is a struggling learner or a high achiever. We want to examine our current instructional practices in AISD and ensure that we are doing what research and best practices show to make the most impact on student learning.”
The complete rankings for each school in Abilene and across the state will be released Thursday (Aug. 15).