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Testing standards changes lower district's ratings

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Overall scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) remained steady for students in Denton Independent School District despite increased standards on the test and the inclusion of more students, school officials said

“We maintained our scores in most areas and increased the number of students who received commended status,” said Denton ISD Superintendent Ray Braswell.

District scores in reading, math and social studies remained constant at 93, 96 and 88 percent, respectively. Writing decreased slightly from 95 to 94 percent passing rate while science scores dropped slightly from 86 to 84 percent.

For this school year, a school needed to increase the percentage number of passing students in math and science to be rated acceptable or higher. The floor was raised in math from 60 to 65 percent of students passing and science was raised from 55 to 60 percent passing.

Changes, such as including the number of “commended” students, more English Language Learners’ scores and Special Education students’ scores, were included to report more aspects of student performance than in past years.

A new indicator measured the progress of the English Language Learners, which showed they improved from 85 to 86 percent. The commended rates improved from 38 to 39 percent in reading and 31 to 32 percent in math.

The district’s completion rate improved from 98.4 to 98.7 percent. The dropout in seventh and eighth grades increased from .2 to .3 percent.

Utilizing the new standards, the district was rated recognized or exemplary on 37 of 40 of its indicators.

Campus and district ratings throughout the state will be impacted because of the elimination of the Texas Projection Measure (TPM), which allowed schools and districts to receive credit for students who had made significant progress.

The TPM was eliminated as a result of public opposition to the use of the measure, including a unanimous vote against further use of test score projections on House Bill 500.

Because of this change to the system, the number of Exemplary districts statewide fell from 241 in 2010 to 61 this year, while the number of campuses earning the highest rating dropped from 2,637 in 2010 to 1,224 today.

“Last year’s ratings were at an all-time high with TPM. This year, we’re seeing the ratings more in line where they were prior to the implementation of TPM,” Dr. Braswell said.

The TEA ratings now require at least 15 percent of the students to receive commended status in reading or English and Language Arts and math to attain recognized status and at least 25 percent to become exemplary.

Denton ISD has eight exemplary elementary campuses this year, including both Lantana schools: Blanton and E.P. Rayzor.

At the secondary level, Harpool Middle School and Guyer High School slipped from recognized to acceptable under the new standards. Using the old TPM criteria, the schools would have remained recognized.

Denton ISD as a whole is rated acceptable. When using the TPM, the district would have retained its recognized status.

This was the last year for students to be tested under the TAKS system, in which accountability standards have steadily increased. The indicators include students’ results in reading or English and language arts, writing, math, science and social studies. Students are ranked in one or more groups: all students, Hispanic, African American, white and economically disadvantaged.

The more diverse and larger the district, the more accountability indicators a district is required to meet. Denton ISD must meet 25 of the 25 TAKS accountability groups. The TAKS was TEA’s assessment and promotions standards, which has been phased in for the past nine years.

Next year, students in all Texas public schools will start taking the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

 

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