Incorrect Test Scores in Piece on Johnston High

RECEIVED Wed., Dec. 19, 2007

Dear Editor,
    On Nov. 30 an article appeared in The Austin Chronicle entitled "The Slow Dying of Johnston High" [News], by Kimberly Reeves. Although the article was not about Reagan High School, Ms. Reeves took the opportunity to mention Reagan in a discussion of Johnston's test scores. Unfortunately, the information reported was incorrect.
    "While other schools have scored lower on the state's standardized tests – comparable scores at Reagan, for instance, were well below Johnston in both language arts and math last year – it's Johnston that will pay the price for dismally and chronically failing the exit-level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills."
    In actuality, according to the Texas Education Agency Academic Excellence Indicator System report for 2007, Reagan High School students scored 6 percentage points higher on their 2007 English language arts TAKS Exam and 1 percentage point higher on their 2007 math TAKS exam than did students at Johnston High School.
    Our intent for this response is not to bring negative attention to Johnston High School. In fact, we applaud the efforts of the students and faculty of Johnston High School. Change does not happen overnight. Change takes time. Both Reagan High School and Johnston High School are in the process of implementing a redesign plan that has the potential for great change. However, the students and faculty can't do this alone. It is disheartening to our students and to our faculty when they are told that members of the community think they will not succeed. In order to excel, both Johnston and Reagan would benefit from the support of the community as well as from the support of the media. In fact, we encourage the community and the media to spend some time with us to learn about the positive things students are doing at both of these high schools. These successes certainly outnumber the negatives. If nothing else, we ask reporters to check their information prior to making a statement that has the potential to leave students discouraged, a statement that sends a message to all students that regardless of how hard they work, their efforts are not noticed or valued.
    Please join us in our fight to make Reagan High School and Johnston High School the best that they can be. We are committed to this challenge. We encourage the community and the media to commit to this endeavor with us.
Yours truly,
Reagan High School Administration and Instructional Team
Ismael Villafane
   [Kimberly Reeves responds: Principal Villafane is correct that Reagan has recorded better scores than Johnston. The scaled scores on reading/language arts for Johnston, Reagan, and Travis are almost identical in 2005 and 2006. In math, though, Reagan is better than Johnston, and Travis is better than Reagan. Johnston ends up in the third quartile; Travis and Reagan are in the second quartile of comparable campuses. For the 2007 data, comparisons are no longer possible, because Johnston is now grouped, demographically, with Lanier and Travis.]
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