AISD Accountability Ratings

A mixed bag

While Pearce Middle School is dominating the headlines, 113 other schools in Austin ISD are also subject to the state's Campus Account­ability Ratings. In the latest report, released by the Texas Education Agency on July 31, the number of AISD schools rated "exemplary" or "recognized" rose, and the district bucked the state trend by reducing its number of "academically unacceptable" campuses. Overall, the district was classified as "academically acceptable," yet work still needs to be done to bring every campus to minimum state standards. Last year, the problem area was elementaries; this year, they all made the grade, but five middle schools and four high schools hit the "academically unacceptable" list. With the numbers in, AISD board of trustees Vice President Vince Tor­res said he's "cautiously optimistic" about the district's direction.

Six elementaries shook off the "academically unacceptable" tag this year: Becker, Norman, and Overton (along with Crockett High School) rose one tier to become "academically acceptable," while Hart, Travis Heights, and Winn all jumped two levels to become part of the district's 30 "recognized" schools.

When it comes to the dreaded "academically unacceptable" rating, East Austin was hit hardest, but not exclusively. Three of the five "academically unacceptable" middle schools (Pearce, Garcia, and Martin) are north of the river and east of I-35, but there's also Mendez to the south and Lamar to the west. Similarly, three of the four high schools in East Austin (Reagan for a fourth year, plus LBJ and the newly repurposed Eastside Memorial) as well as Travis in South Austin missed the measures. That number could drop: Due to a calculation glitch for 2008 completion rates, the TEA has already informed AISD that it can appeal for Travis.

While schools are being measured against previous achievement, the measuring system has changed radically this year. The required pass rates in some subjects rose, and it has become harder for districts to use their exceptions – effectively "get out of jail" cards for missed targets. While noting some improvements in the metrics, like using year-on-year improvement to show the value a school adds to a student's education over time, Torres warned, "We really can't compare this year to last year."

Whatever the rules, Torres warned that AISD must have higher goals than just avoiding school closures. He said, "It's not just about reaching minimum standards but preparing kids to be ready for the next level." Even for the improved schools, he asked, "Is that progress enough?"

AISD Campuses Subject to Review

Exemplary 1524
Academically Acceptable6345
Alternative Education Acceptable56
Academically Unacceptable 119

Source: TEA Campus Accountability Ratings report

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AISD, Texas Education Agency, Vince Torres, Campus Accountability Ratings

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