AISD Campuses: Mostly in Good Standing
97% of district schools reach state targets for accountability
Good scores in the classroom translated into good news for Austin ISD this week, as the school district and nearly all its campuses surpassed the state accountability standards. As issued by the Texas Education Agency on Aug. 15, the headline numbers for the 2016-17 academic year are in the four categories of state targets, all of which the district exceeded: student achievement by 16 percentage points, student progress by 21, closing performance gaps by 10, and postsecondary readiness by 20.
However, there's good news and bad news in the campus-level details. The good news is that 97% of all schools reached state targets and were classified as either having met standard or alternative standard. That puts AISD above the statewide average of 94% yet still leaves 3% that did not hit the metrics – but even there lies some good news. Last year, seven campuses were classified by the state as Improvement Required, and this year five of those (the Graduation Prep Academy at Lanier, International High School, Dobie Middle School, Gus Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy, and Norman and Pickle elementaries) reached the state standard. However, two campuses – Burnet and Mendez middle schools – stayed in the state's crosshairs and were joined by two more: Martin Middle and Govalle Elementary.
The good news for the district is that these findings are only preliminary, and can be appealed before finalization in November. However, that will not prevent some heartburn about Mendez, which is on the list for the fourth year in a row. Under a state law passed in 2015, starting next year any school on the list for five successive years must be closed: If the district does not, then it could be subject to takeover by the Texas Education Agency – not just Mendez, but the entire district.
With only one AISD campus in that precarious situation, the TEA removing the board and administration seems like an extreme outside possibility. Yet there are broad concerns that Houston ISD, the state's largest school district, might be under the gun next year. With 10 campuses now in year four or greater of Improvement Required, HISD administrators and city officials are taking the potential threat seriously, especially after recent ambiguous statements from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.