It’s not a list anybody wants to be on.
The Texas Education Agency Friday released its Public Education Grant or “PEG” list for 2014 – a listing of 892 schools statewide students can transfer out of, if they wish, with the state picking up the tab at whatever Texas public school they move to.
Boyd High School, Bridgeport Middle School and Chico High School were the only three Wise County schools on the list this year.
That means they have been rated academically unacceptable at some point since 2011 or that student achievement fell below the 50 percent level on reading/English language arts, writing, mathematics, science or social studies on the STAAR or TAKS test in any of the last three years.
In fact, both Bridgeport Middle School and Chico High School earned that rating in 2011. It takes three years to get off the list, so they will go off this year, barring another glitch in test scores.
Bridgeport Middle School was actually ranked in the top 25 percent overall last year among comparably-sized campuses.
Superintendent Eddie Bland said there have been no requests to transfer out, even though one sub-group fell below the 50th percentile in social studies just this past year.
“Anyplace we’re underachieving, it’s not a student issue, it’s an instruction issue,” he said. “We’re working to get better.
“We know it, and we are working on it,” he added. “We have social studies teachers who understand.”
At Chico, it’s just a matter of having missed the mark in 2011.
“In one subgroup, we were low one year at the high school – in math,” Superintendent Mike Jones said. “We corrected it, but no ratings were issued in 2012. This year we had 90 percent of the kids pass the math test, and we’re very proud of that.”
In Boyd, the high school campus was rated academically unacceptable in 2013 and also fell below 50 percent in writing.
Superintendent Ted West, Assistant Superintendent Barbara Stice and BHS Principal Scott Nedrow all spoke to how the problems are being addressed.
“A lot of school districts have been designated as ‘needs improvement,’ and we’re on there,” Stice said. “They also designated writing as a deficiency, as our high school students fell below the mark on writing – certainly below what we wanted them to be.
“Mr. Nedrow and the staff at BHS have been working very hard to improve that for next year,” she added. “We’re going to work to improve student achievement whether we’re on a list or not.”
Nedrow pointed out the teacher training and other efforts going on to improve writing, from double-blocking English and creative writing classes to the fact there is a writing component on all the semester exams now.
“We’re also looking at writing boot camps,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of good things at Boyd High School. I see us doing nothing but moving up.”
Stice noted about 10 percent of Boyd’s students transferred into the district. She doesn’t anticipate an exodus based on test scores.
“We’ve had to address this in the past,” she said. “People know we’re doing good things for kids whether we’re on a list or not.”
West said anyone interested in transferring out can contact their campus principal to start the process.
The PEG program was actually designed for larger districts, to give students in a poor-performing school the opportunity to transfer to another campus in the same district. With the exception of Northwest, none of Wise County’s schools has more than one middle or high school – so transferring to another campus would mean moving the student to a different school district.
“It’s almost an irrelevant measure, going back to the old accountability system,” Bridgeport’s Bland said. “But we’re attacking it. We don’t like it.”
No Decatur, Northwest, Alvord, Paradise or Slidell campuses were on the PEG list.