Preliminary TAKS scores for Lubbock ISD reveal both problems and strengths for the district this past school year.
One of the greatest concerns lies with the results for minority and less-fortunate students. The district admits there is need for improvement, but they say several factors may have contributed to lower scores.
"We hold ourselves accountable for all students, every student in the system, and I will tell you we are not where we need to be," said Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza.
Garza says they're already working ahead to improve for next year. Early numbers from last school year show some gaps.
"I'm very concerned; I will tell you we have a couple of student groups that we have to do a better job with," she said.
For example, results show that only 57% of high school freshman met standards in math, district-wide. Results are also broken down into race and income.
In 9th grade, only 47% of Hispanics, 33% of African Americans, and 42% of economically disadvantaged students met standards. 77% percent of white students in 9th grade met standards by comparison.
Garza says they hope to address that by refining their new curriculum called C-SCOPE. Two-thirds of school districts in Texas use C-SCOPE. Last year was the first for the C-SCOPE curriculum at LISD. The growing pains LISD experienced were similar other districts across the state in their first year with C-Scope, according to Garza.
She hopes to standardize lessons so students in the same grade at any LISD school receive the same instruction. 30% of LISD students are mobile and district public information officer Nancy Sharp says an aligned curriculum should help teachers and students, even if they move schools or classrooms.
"If a student has gaps in learning we can't just continue to go on. We have to stop at that particular content area so they don't get further and further behind," Garza said.
LISD also wants to maximize student's learning time in school buildings. Garza said changes to the standards may have contributed to lower scores last year.
"I expect ratings to change for a lot of our schools. It's primarily because the standard increased in math and science by 10 percent, secondly, because of the elimination of TPM."
TPM stands for the Texas Projection Measure. Garza says in the past it has helped for students who were behind, but catching up. "It did give a false sense of performance statewide."
Scores in reading, language arts, writing, and social studies were bright spots. Numbers show lower numbers for students in the first year of a new school, like freshman and 6th graders. However, scores do improve every year after.
"We're never satisfied when we have any unacceptable school, but unfortunately this year I think we'll have a handful," said Garza.
She wouldn't speculate which schools may receive unacceptable ratings, but she does predict at least half the schools in the district will receive recognized or exemplary grades. Garza adds that requirements for those grades also went up this year.
It was the final year for the TAKS test. Next year, students will switch to STAAR, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.
Below is the text of the LISD written statement:
Preliminary raw scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test have been released to school districts across the state. As the state begins to phase out the TAKS test and move to the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test, Lubbock ISD shows significant growth in student academic progress since the test was introduced in 2003. Superintendent Karen Garza said, "Despite increasing standards over the nine years of the test and the inclusion of special education student scores in the most recent years of the TAKS test, Lubbock ISD has made significant gains, but we recognize improvement is still needed, especially in the areas of math and science."
The 2010-11 school year marks the last full year of TAKS testing. Beginning next school year, students in grades 3-9 will take the new STAAR test, which will be an even more rigorous test. Students who just completed the ninth, tenth or eleventh grade will continue to take the TAKS Exit-level test to meet graduation requirements. Students entering the ninth grade in the fall will be the first class required to pass end-of-course-exams to graduate. With the new and more rigorous STAAR just over the horizon, this year Lubbock ISD implemented C-SCOPE, an aligned, district-wide curriculum, to prepare students for the new accountability tests. Research shows that in the long run, a curriculum aligned within the school district and aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) is very important to student success. About two-thirds of school districts in Texas use the C-SCOPE curriculum.
The preliminary district scores indicate very high levels of performance continue in Reading/English/Language Arts, Writing and Social Studies, while the district continues to be challenged in some areas of math and science. Final accountability scores and rating information will not be released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) until August, but school districts across the state are bracing for lower ratings with the removal of the controversial Texas Projection Measure (TPM). State Education Commissioner Robert Scott pulled the TPM provision this year after criticism by some lawmakers. The TPM credited students with passage on the test if their performance increased by significant amounts, even if it was still below the state passing standard. "It's unfortunate the Commissioner of Education has chosen to remove this measure. Whether or not we agree with TPM, the agency did implement it only to remove it two years later, creating a public relations challenge for all Texas schools," said Superintendent Garza.
Further changes to the accountability standards include a new requirement for schools to have a certain percentage of students scoring at the "Commended" level of achievement in order to receive the "Recognized" or "Exemplary" rating. Students must score at a considerably higher academic level of achievement to be "Commended."
Regarding the anticipation of accountability ratings in August Garza said, "While we must wait for the agency to release official ratings on August 1, we are expecting approximately half of our schools to be recognized or exemplary, despite the elimination of TPM and the new commended requirement. We continue to be concerned about a handful of our campuses where the increased standard for math and science and the elimination of TPM may have a dramatic effect." Garza added, "I am optimistic that we will experience significant gains in the coming years as we continue to implement our aligned curriculum and as we continue to focus on every child, every day."
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