A few weeks ago I published an article by State Board Member, Thomas Ratliff, in which he explained the state academic accountability rating system very well. Regarding the accountability system Mr. Ratliff stated, "the TEA assigns these one or two-word descriptions to entire campuses and entire school districts in an attempt to provide the public with a general indication of how that campus or district is performing academically. In fact, these rankings only tell the public how the lowest performing sub-group is doing." To illustrate what Mr. Ratliff is saying let’s look at the ratings for San Saba ISD and its campuses. To sum up what is certainly a complicated accountability system, here is how the campuses and the District look under the state’s accountability system: we were assessed on 80 academic categories/subgroups and we met 23 at the highest exemplary level, 41 at the recognized level, 14 at the academically acceptable level, and were rated academically unacceptable in two categories. Subgroups that figure into the calculation for San Saba ISD include: white, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged and special needs students are embedded in their subgroups.
San Saba ISD as a District achieved more recognized and exemplary subgroup ratings than it has in recent years. Achieving the highest rating of exemplary at the District level are our English Language Learners, all students reading commended status, white students reading/ELA, all students in writing, white students in writing, white students in social studies, and white students in science. The District is recognized in the following subgroups: reading/ELA, all students, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students. The District is recognized in Hispanic and economically disadvantaged writing. The District is recognized in all students, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged social studies performance, In math, recognized in all students, Hispanic, white and economically disadvantaged student groups. Three other recognized categories include commended performance of reading/ELA, economically disadvantaged students and all students and economically disadvantaged students in math. As well in commended status, the District was exemplary in reading/ELA all students. The only acceptable ratings for the District are all students, Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged students in science. Of the 25 academic indicators the District was exemplary on 7, recognized on 15 and academically acceptable on 3.
At the campus level San Saba Elementary School is a recognized campus meeting recognized indicators in all the following subgroups: reading/ELA – all students, Hispanics, white, economically disadvantaged; math all students, Hispanic students white students, and economically disadvantaged students. The campus met exemplary status on the two indicators it was rated on in writing including all students and economically disadvantaged students. San Saba Middle School was evaluated on 17 subgroups. They received exemplary status on all students writing, all students math, white students math and white students in science. The campus is Recognized in the following: reading/ELA all students, Hispanic students, economically disadvantaged students; social studies all students; math Hispanic students, economically disadvantaged students. Under academically acceptable the campus met this standard in social studies subgroups, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged; in science all students, Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged students were acceptable. At San Saba High School, the campus was evaluated under 16 subgroups. Achieving exemplary rating in reading/ELA is all students and white students; social studies – all students and white students. Achieving the recognized rating in ELA/reading is Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged students; social studies – Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged students, white students in math and white students in science. Academically acceptable includes all students in math, all students in science, Hispanic students in science and economically disadvantaged students in science. In two areas the campus failed to meet one of the top three ratings. The campus was rated academically unacceptable in Hispanic math and economically disadvantaged math performance. Commended levels at the three campuses are definitely to be noted. Receiving exemplary rating on commended status is SSES Reading/ELA all students and economically disadvantaged students, all students in math and recognized are the economically disadvantaged students on commended performance. At SSMS, the students were exemplary in all students reading/ELA and math and recognized in reading/ELA and math economically disadvantaged. At SSHS all students in reading and math were recognized on their commended performance.
Again, it is a complicated accountability system. The campuses and the District were assessed on 80 academic categories and we met 29 % at the exemplary level, 45% were at the recognized level , 18% at the academically acceptable level, and 3% rated academically unacceptable. To use Thomas Ratliff’s words again, "So, at your local district, 4 out of 5 sub-groups could be doing great while one is struggling, and the whole campus or district gets the low ranking. The analogy I like to use is a high school track team. If the whole track team ran races every month of the year and at the end of the year EVERY team member received the worst time of the slowest runner." San Saba ISD and its campus set high expectations for all students. We are not into excuse making at this District. We are now working toward the future accountability and assessment system. Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year students in grades 3 – 9 will fall under a new testing system called STAAR. Students in grades 10 and 11 will continue to take the TAKS test. The TAKS will be phased out the next two years and eventually all grades 3 – 8 will be taking the grade level STAAR and grades 9 -12 will be taking end of course subject exams. The system is changing and SSISD is making changes to meet the needs of our students.