Date:8/6/2002 McCulloch County schools receive fine grades from final ’02 TAAS test results

With the announcement of the 2002 Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) results on Aug. 1, the nine-year accountability ratings in Texas public schools has come to an end. In the final year of TAAS testing, McCulloch County schools posted high marks for testing and dropout records as compared to state standards.

Both Lohn and Rochelle ISDs received exemplary ratings. The number of exemplary campuses statewide reached 1,908 in 2002, up from 1,571 the previous year. The number of exemplary school districts was 143 this year, compared to 178 last year.

To earn the top rating, a school or a district needed to have at least a 90 percent passing rate on the reading, writing and mathematics sections of the TAAS for all students and student groups. They also needed to achieve a 90 percent or better passing rate for all students on the social studies TAAS test and have an annual dropout rate of 1.0 percent or less for all students and each student group.

Brady ISD as a district received a recognized status. Of the three campuses active in the ratings and testing, Brady High School achieved an exemplary rating while Brady Middle School and Brady Elementary both received recognized status.

"This is the second year in a row that the high school has achieved the highest rating," said Brady Supt. Max Gordon. "Another positive sign is the fact that Brady Elementary moved up from an acceptable rating to a recognized rating. As a district, our percentage of passing students increased over the previous year."

The end of the TAAS tests leads into the beginning of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test which will cover more grades and subjects. The broader scope and different format of the test leaves state officials expecting to see a drop in passing rates. 

"This has been our previous experience and that of other states as well,” said Commissioner of Education Felipe Alanis. “Just like our students, this original rating system has grown and developed each year since lawmakers created it in 1993. Today, the standards districts and schools must meet are far higher than they were when the system began, but our schools and our districts have risen to the challenge. In 1994, only six districts earned an exemplary rating. Today, 143 earned this highest honor. We’ve jumped from 67 exemplary schools in 1994 to a phenomenal 1,908 today. That’s impressive performance in anyone’s book,” he said.

With the 2002-03 school year, the state will use the TAKS test results as a transitional year. According to the Texas Education Agency, 2004 accountability standards will be used to judge the campus performance after the upcoming 2003 school year to provide an evaluation of each campus' performance.

Another new stipulation of the TAKS test involves the new standard that will be implemented first with third graders and over the next five years will include fifth and eighth graders. 

Beginning next year (2003-04 school year), the state will prohibit the promotion of third graders who fail to pass the reading portion of the TAKS test. According to Supt. Gordon, it is expected that over the coming years, writing and mathematics tests will also fall under the same standards. 

"It will be a multi-stage process, but this is the first time the state has ever taken testing standards to this level," said Gordon. "For students affected by this situation, the decision making process will involve both them and their parents."

Other changes in standardized testing include the changing of exit level tests from the sophomore level to the junior level with the addition of other standardized tests at the ninth and tenth grade levels.
Date:8/21/2001 Brady High posts exemplary rating, as does Lohn, Rochelle

The Texas Education Agency released its accountability ratings for Texas public schools recently and McCulloch County schools saw both an increase and decrease in annual ratings.

The ratings are determined by attendance figures, dropout rates and the passing rates on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills exam. The purpose of the ratings is to inform the public on the general performance of public schools using these certain criteria.

Brady Independent School District saw the most change from the 2000 accountability ratings. The three eligible campuses in Brady all received different ratings. Brady High School moved up to the exemplary rating; Brady Middle School stayed the same with a recognized rating; and Brady Elementary dropped from a recognized rating to an acceptable rating.

"We're pleased with the overall rating for the district (maintaining the recognized rating)," said Brady ISD Supt. Max Gordon. "As far as the high school receiving an exemplary rating—that is outstanding. We're very proud of that campus and of the students there. Hopefully that will act as an inspiration for other campuses. We're not satisfied with the rating for the elementary campus, however. We're trying to work on certain areas to ensure that the acceptable rating increases."

North Ward was not eligible to be rated because kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students are not required to take the TAAS test.

For the second consecutive year, Rochelle ISD received an exemplary rating for the 2000 school year. For the 1998 school year they received a recognized rating.

"We were very excited to receive the exemplary rating," said RISD Supt. Jim Lange. "It's difficult to keep an exemplary rating."

For four years straight now, the Lohn Independent School District has worked hard to achieve the exemplary rating as well. In fact, the 2000 exemplary rating marks the fifth time in the past six years that Lohn received the highest rating.

"We make the exemplary rating a goal of ours each year," said LISD Supt. Leon Freeman. "We set out to achieve that rating and everyone out here, both teachers and students, understands that."

The accountability ratings will stand for one year at which time the schools will be re-evaluated to determine whether improvements have been made based on the current year's performance.


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