The controversial Texas Projection Measure’s (TPM) elimination this year as a factor in setting school test ratings apparently made a difference for at least one PAISD campus.
The district was rated overall “acceptable” in the ratings posted Friday, July 29, by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in Austin. H.G. Olsen Elementary School and Port Aransas High School were individually given “recognized” ratings. Brundrett Middle School was rated “acceptable.”
Schools are rated based on how well students do in the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, the TAKS test, and on other factors including drop-out rates.
The TEA’s rating system goes from “exemplary” on top through “recognized” and “acceptable” to “academically unacceptable,” the lowest rating.
Last year, all three schools and the district received “recognized” ratings. But Port Aransas ISD Superintendent Dr. Sharon Doughty said if the TPM had not been used last year, the district would have had an “acceptable” rating.
“A new standard also was added,” Doughty said. “Students must now meet a mandatory level of commended performance on four areas tested: English language arts/ reading for all groups, English language arts/ reading for economically disadvantaged students, math for all groups and math for economically disadvantaged students.”
She said results from the TEA showed that Port Aransas students achieved an exemplary level in three of those four areas, and an acceptable rating in the fourth area.
Port Aransas High School showed no score drops from last year in any of the four subjects tested in high schools – reading/English language arts (ELA), social studies, math and science. Gains, however, were posted by Hispanic students in math (84 percent of the students tested this year passed, compared with 69 percent last year) and science (from 78 percent who passed last year to more than 99 percent this year). Another student subgroup, economically disadvantaged, posted a jump from 83 percent who passed science last year to 94 percent this year.
Where fewer than 30 students were tested in a given subgroup, numbers are withheld by the TEA to avoid identifying individual students, said DeEtta Culbertson of the TEA communications staff. Because Port Aransas has only 561 students in the district, and no grade level except high school sophomores has as many as 50, most subgroup categories in the ratings show no numbers.
The school also lost ratings points this year because only 94 percent of the graduating class completed all 12 years of school, compared to 100 percent last year.
“Port Aransas High School is one of five high schools in Education
Service Center Region 2 that earned a ‘recognized’ rating,” high school principal Sharon McKinney pointed out. No school in the region, which includes 37 schools, was named “exemplary.”
“Out of the 10 TAKS indicators used to determine the high school’s rating, PAHS was exemplary in seven,” she added. “ This is remarkable, considering that the standards for achieving a recognized or exemplary rating increased this year.”
Brundrett Middle School, the only campus that showed a drop from “recognized” to “acceptable,” saw students drop from a 94 percent passing rate last year to 89 percent this year in reading/ELA, with the biggest skids coming in white (93 percent to 88 percent) and economically disadvantaged (93 percent to 75 percent) students.
Brundrett’s overall math score dropped from 87 percent in 2010 to 80 percent this year; Hispanic (from 99 percent to 80 percent) and economically disadvantaged (from 78 percent to 72 percent) student saw the drops.
However, Brundrett’s economically disadvantaged students posted an 11 percent increase in science scores (from 67 percent to 78 percent) and a 7 percent gain (from 92 percent to 99 percent) in writing.
“Of the 14 indicators … more than 90 percent of Brundrett students performed at an exemplary level on four indicators, and more than 80 percent performed at a recognized level on seven indicators,” principal Gina McKeever said.
McKeever said Brnudrett teachers will use the data to identify campus strengths and weaknesses and develop approaches to better performance.
At H.G. Olsen Elementary School, economically disadvantaged students fell from 99 to 78 percent in writing, and from 97 to 94 percent in reading. However, they showed gains of 79 to 92 percent in math and from 90 percent to 92 percent in science. White students posted a sevenpoint improvement in math, from 91 percent to 98 percent, and rose from 96 percent to 99 percent in science. Hispanic students fell from 99 percent to 83 percent in math.
Principal Pat Nelson said the school is proud of the work teachers and students put into getting the recognized rating.
“Ninety percent or more of the students achieved an exemplary rate in nine of the 10 TAKS indicators,” she noted. She said Olsen students only missed an exemplary rating in math by 2 percent.
The Texas Projection Measure (TPM) was criticized last year by some educators and legislators as artificially inflating school ratings. The TPM allowed testers to count students as passing parts of the TAKS test, even though they don’t get a passing score on the test itself. The rationale was that educators could predict, based on studies, how many students would improve enough to pass the TAKS tests in the future. Those students were then credited with passing the tests.
In a news conference announcing the 2011 ratings, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott conceded that political pressure led to the elimination of the TPM as a factor in district ratings.
“This year (TPM) became a controversial measure, and the Texas House of Representatives voted unanimously to end its use,” Scott said at the news conference. Scott said although the move to legislate TPM out of existence didn’t make it through both houses, he “made the decision to end the projection measure as a means of recognizing the districts with their ratings.”
He pointed out that not only was the TPM withdrawn, but testing also has become more rigorous each year.
“A five-point increase (in test scores) in some subject areas over last year will cause some districts not to receive a higher rating,” he said.
The South Jetty did not attend the news conference in Austin, but watched it on line at www.tea.state.tx.us/index2. aspx?id=2147501873 .
Schools won’t be rated by the agency next year as they prepare for a new accountability system called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR.
The TEA Web site says STAAR ™ includes the 12 end-ofcourse assessments mandated by legislators in 2007 and the new third- through eighth grade assessments mandated by the legislature in 2009. The new tests will be implemented in the 2011–2012 school year and ratings will be applied in the 2012-2013 school year.
Doughty said she would go over the figures with the school board at its next meeting on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. in the administration building, 100 S. Station St.