PAISD rating by TEA revised to 'recognized'
The Port Aransas Independent School District now stands as a "recognized" district, after winning its appeal of the Texas Education Agency's earlier rating of PAISD as simply "acceptable."
The TEA announced its decision on Tuesday, Oct. 9, to grant the appeal, said PAISD Superintendent Billy Wiggins.
Ratings issued annually by the TEA are based on student performances on state-mandated testing.
Depending on how students perform on TAKS, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, the TEA assigns public schools varying statuses, from academically unacceptable on up to acceptable, recognized and, at the top of the scale, exemplary.
The ratings are established also through performances on a test known as the SDAA II - the State Developed Alternative Assessment. SDAA II is designed for special-education students who don't take the more difficult TAKS test due to learning disabilities.
When schools are rated unacceptable two years in a row, it can lead to a maximum consequence of the state taking over a campus and firing administrators and teachers.
The TEA announced its latest round of ratings for schools statewide on Aug. 1. At that time, the agency ranked PAISD as acceptable.
PAISD officials then began examining individual student performances on testing and found coding errors made by a PAISD employee on seven tests administered at Brundrett Middle School, Wiggins said. The employee accidentally penciled in the wrong bubbles on some forms, he said.
When testing was finished, the errors made it appear the students had failed the tests even though they had not, Wiggins said. What appeared to be failures by those students was enough to make the TEA rate PAISD as acceptable rather than recognized.
PAISD's appeal based on the coding errors prompted the TEA to upgrade the district's rating, Wiggins said.
"I'm pleased because that (new rating) is what our district actually earned," Wiggins said. "It's what we were due."
PAISD Board of Trustees President Rick Adams had similar thoughts.
"We're thrilled," Adams said. "We earned these ratings. It was just by some unfortunate errors that it wasn't reflected."Wiggins said employees will check testing forms more closely in the future.
"We kind of have a check and balance now, different levels (each form) goes through, before it goes to the state," Wiggins said. "Actually, we always have checked it, but we're certainly more cognizant of it now."