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State Distinctions for 3 Schools and Increase in District Score from Previous Year Highlight TEA Accountability Ratings for CISD

            An increase in the district’s overall accountability score from the previous year and academic achievement designations for three campuses highlighted the Texas Education Agency’s 2019 accountability ratings for Cleburne ISD.

            “We increased our overall accountability score by six points from last year, from a 72 to a 78,” Dr. Chris Jackson, executive director of research, data and accountability said. “Cleburne ISD particularly has a strong score in College, Career and Military Readiness and in the graduation rate. In this component of the accountability system, a district or high school campus earns credit for every student who graduates with college readiness in math or reading, earns a career and technical certification or enlists in the military. Cleburne High School earned a score of 90 on this particular assessment criterion.”

            Thursday’s release of the accountability ratings by TEA was accompanied by state distinction designations for Coleman Elementary, Marti Elementary and Cleburne High School. The recognitions are based on student performance on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness tests administered in the spring.

Coleman has been awarded a total of three designations, including Academic Achievement in science. The campus is also receiving a state distinction for placing in the top 25 percent among “like” campuses in academic growth and a third for placing in the top 25 percent in the closing the gap domain.

Cleburne High School has received an Academic Achievement designation in social studies. Marti Elementary was recognized by the state for Academic Achievement in science, a distinction the school has consistently been awarded.

Cleburne ISD has received a District score of 78, resulting in the rating of C under the Texas Education Agency’s new accountability rating system, which assesses a letter grade relating to overall performance on the STAAR and in specified domains of student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps.

            Coleman’s overall performance resulted in a B from the state, with a campus score of 86. TEAM School has also received the B rating with a score of 83. The campus was assessed using different measures, based on its operation as an alternative high school.

            Cleburne High School was one point away from the B rating, with an assessed score of 79. Ratings of C were also received by Adams Elementary and Gerard Elementary, both with scores of 77.

Marti Elementary, Santa Fe Elementary and Smith Middle School were assessed with the D rating with scores of 66, 62 and 66 respectively. C.C. Cooke Elementary, Irving Elementary and Wheat Middle School have received an F for scores in the upper 50s.

            Jackson expressed concern regarding the new rating system in its impact on several CISD campuses.

 “The fact that a campus like C.C. Cooke, which earned an 83 last year, which is the equivalent of a B, can go to this lower rating in one year demonstrates how inconsistent the state’s new accountability system can be,” Jackson said. “Outside of high school campuses, the accountability system is driven 100 percent by STAAR scores, which can fluctuate from year-to-year. In the case of Irving Elementary, the campus actually earned a D, but is subject to a provision known as the ‘forced failure’ rule. Under this provision, if three out of the four domains are below a 60, the campus cannot be rated any higher than a 59.”

            Superintendent Dr. Kyle Heath said the district has the right people in place who “know what they need to do” in improving student success.

            “We are ready to push on and we have teachers and administrators ready and able to do just that,” Heath said. “These ratings reflect one test day out of 175 days they are in class. But we feel a sense of urgency because we won’t have these children forever. Our campus principals, with the help of district administrators, have identified the things we can do that have the most impact.”

            Cleburne’s expansion to full-day pre-kindergarten at all elementary campuses--well ahead of the decision by the state to implement the same standard in 2019-20--is one of the areas believed to have great impact.

            “We are three years into that process,” Heath said. “We have not had those first full-day students tested by the STAAR and that is one of the most important student groups we are looking at. Those in that first group will reflect where we began to implement change. They will be in third grade this year and taking the reading and math assessments for the first time. I’m very interested in seeing their scores in 2020.”

            “We will continue to track data, involving our teachers in that process, so they can have true insight into each of their students and their strengths and needs,” Heath said. “We are working hard and moving in the right direction, which includes new leadership at one campus. But we won’t see a 10-point jump overnight. Three out of four CISD students are living in poverty and in 30 percent of our students, English is their second language. These are true factors that require more cause for learning interventions. We want every campus to meet the needs of each learner and with the leadership and instruction we have in place, that is happening in Cleburne schools.”

            CISD School Board President John Finnell has stated concerns regarding the accuracy and effectiveness of the new A-F rating system in reflecting student and school performance. He repeated those concerns with teachers and staff attending Monday’s Back to School Convocation.

            “The A-F system doesn’t reflect the hard work taking place on CISD campuses every day,” Finnell said. “This rating assessment is an oversimplified plan. We should be measuring campus success and performance by how far teachers have been able to progress kids in the time they’ve had them. It’s not about an A, C or F--which is not representative of student progress.”

            Jackson said the district will continue to utilize initiatives and programs it has put in place to impact learning, while supporting teachers and campuses.

            “We will be working closely with these campuses who received the lower scores in implementing improvement plans and ensuring all students have what they need to be successful,” he said. “Our teachers and students work hard every day, and it is unfortunate that the state accountability system doesn’t recognize the accomplishments of a campus outside of the STAAR test.”

            A review of the 2019 accountability ratings for the district and campuses will be presented to trustees at Monday’s school board meeting.