While districts throughout the county posted academically acceptable or better ratings, subgroup scores proved problematic.
Paradise, for instance, just missed receiving an exemplary rating for the district. Paradise middle, intermediate and elementary all received exemplary, but the high school received a recognized rating, which knocked the entire district down one rating.
Eighty-four percent, or 26 out of 31, of high school students in the “economically disadvantaged” subgroup failed to meet the Texas Projection Measure (TPM) in the science portion of the TAKS test. If only two more students had reached the TPM in science the district would have been rated exemplary.
“You gotta be happy about it but frustrated at the same time,” said Paradise superintendent Monty Chapman. “But it’s the system we have to work with.
“When they say that every kids counts, every kid counts a whole lot in one of the subgroups.”
“I’ve always thought we’re looking at it the wrong way,” said Chapman. “We’re looking at what they don’t know rather than what they do know. It all comes from one day of tests. You don’t know what happened to a kid the night before at his home. It’s just like you. You don’t perform the same at work every day.”
“You have to pay special attention to close the gaps and make sure all students are passing,” said Rod Townsend, Decatur school district’s new superintendent. “All students can learn just as well as any other, you just need to find a way to relate to them.”
Decatur students posted 90 percent or higher districtwide except for Hispanics and economically disadvantaged students in the science test. Similar to Paradise, if only a couple more students in those subgroups met the TPM, the district would have received an exemplary rating.
“You’re only as good as your lowest score,” Townsend said of the current ratings system. “It should be an average. A student is judged on what they do in one day. We all have bad days.”
Still, Chapman and Townsend were impressed with the students and teachers in their districts.
“We’re proud of the teachers and the kids,” Chapman said. “Our teachers did a great job getting the students prepared curriculum wide.”
“We were quite pleased with our rating,” Townsend said. “We feel the staff did a great job. But we won’t be completely satisfied until we get exemplary on every campus.”
Slidell was the only district that achieved a district rating of exemplary.
“The rating is important, but what’s most important is that it reflects the gains our students have made in their academic performance,” said Slidell Superintendent Greg Enis. “I know our students and staff have worked very hard. This has been a three-year process.”
Still, despite earning the highest eligible rating, Enis said there is still room for improvement.
“The real goal is 100 percent,” Enis said. “It’s a difficult goal to achieve. Our math scores continue to be a challenge.”