Comal ISD TAKS ratings

The first state ratings under the new student assessment test, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), were released by the Texas Education Agency, and the Comal Independent School District has 11 out of 17 schools rated either Exemplary or Recognized, the two highest ratings possible in Texas.

·The other six schools are Academically Acceptable under the revised rating system and one of those six, Mt. Valley School, is expected to be Recognized on appeal. That would take the total receiving Exemplary or Recognized to 12.

"We are pleased with our success but understand we still have a lot of work to do," says Nancy Fuller, superintendent. "We are 'thinking exemplary' and will settle for nothing less. In fact, we almost had a total of six schools make the Exemplary list this year."

· Besides TAKS being a more rigorous assessment system, the scores of special needs students taking a State-Developed Alternative Assessment (SDAA) were factored into the accountability ratings for the first time.

· In addition, in order to be Exemplary, high schools must now have a student completion rate of at least 95 percent, including each student sub-group, and secondary schools' dropout rates cannot exceed .2 percent.

· Three campuses earned the highest rating possible, Exemplary, which means 90 percent or more of their students passed each TAKS test given and the same percentage or more of special needs students passed the SDAA. The three schools are Rahe Primary, Bulverde Elementary, and Specht Elementary.

· Eight campuses earned the second highest rating, Recognized. Those schools are Arlon Seay Intermediate, Bill Brown Elementary, Comal Elementary, Goodwin Primary, Frazier Elementary, Hoffmann Lane Elementary, Rebecca Creek Elementary, and Spring Branch Middle.

·To be Recognized, a school had to have 70 percent or more passing each TAKS test, in each student sub-group. For the first time, the Recognized rating could also be achieved through an alternate route which calls for a 65 percent passing rate on TAKS and SDAA and the need to meet the "required improvement" criteria. "Required improvement" is a new element in the accountability ratings. If TAKS performance on a test ranges from 65 to 69 percent and has shown enough improvement on TAKS since 2003 to reach the 70 percent passing level in two years, it qualifies for a Recognized rating. In addition, at the secondary level, an 85 percent completion rate for high school students had to be met to be Recognized, and the dropout rate could not exceed .7 percent.

"Remember that TAKS covers more subjects and grades than TAAS (the previous assessment system) and completion rates have not been used before to calculate ratings," says Dr. Shirley Neeley, the state's Commissioner of Education. "Between testing and completion and dropout rates, schools can be evaluated on as many as 36 indicators in the new state system, compared to 21 indicators in the previous rating system. This makes it substantially harder to achieve Exemplary and Recognized ratings."

· Frazier Elementary, with an economically disadvantaged student population of almost 50 percent, is Recognized but came so close to being an Exemplary campus this year. More than 90 percent passed each test at each level. In math, however, the Hispanic and economically disadvantaged subgroups had 89 percent, in each group, pass the test. At least 90 percent needed to pass for the school to be rated Exemplary.

·Mt. Valley Schoolís rating is being appealed by the district because the TAKS scores from Mt. Valley Intermediate, which was a separate school in 2002-03 but was integrated with Mt. Valley Elementary in 2003-04, were not considered by the state to determine that Mt. Valley School did meet the required improvement criteria in percentage passing TAKS in 2004. A decision on the appeal will be announced by the state in December.

·At almost every grade level, on every test, the percentage passing in Comal ISD was higher when compared to schools and students in the region and at the state level. Even with that remarkable success, the school district, as a whole, has an Academically Acceptable rating after being a Recognized school district for several years in a row.

 

· Comal ISD schools rated as Academically Acceptable this year are Canyon Intermediate, Canyon Middle, Canyon High, Smithson Valley Middle, and Smithson Valley High, in addition to Mt. Valley School whose rating is being appealed.

     
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