Tyler ISD failed to meet the federal government's Adequate Yearly Progress standards for the third straight year. But district officials say the plan is to stay the course and continue emphasizing the state curriculum standards and increasing the academic rigor.
Last year, 13 campuses and the district missed AYP.
Statewide, 71 percent of Texas' more than 1,200 school districts missed AYP. That's up from 49 percent last year.
Some 48 percent of the state's more than 8,500 campuses missed the federal standard — up from 26 percent last year.
The decline in AYP performance comes as the federal standards continue to increase. According to No Child Left Behind, the law that set into motion the Adequate Yearly Progress system, by 2014, 100 percent of all students in a district and its campuses must pass the reading/English language arts and the math standardized tests in order to meet AYP.
In order to get there, Texas has been incrementally raising the percentage of passers needed to “meet AYP” each year.
As a whole TISD's passing percentages were strong, district officials said. Some 85 percent of all TISD students met standard for reading/English language arts and 80 percent of all students met it in math.
However those percentages, along with performance in several other subcategories, did not meet this year's mark. So the district and many of its campuses missed AYP.
“We're never happy when we don't meet the standards, and we're going to work to increase our progress toward that,” Dr. Karen Raney, TISD's director of assessment and accountability, said. “But, it is becoming an increasingly difficult target.”
HOW IT WORKs
These are reading/English language arts, math and either the graduation rate or attendance rate depending on the grade level.
Within the reading/ELA and math indicators, there are two components: student performance (the percentage of students who met standard) and student participation (the percentage of students who took the test).
The details go even deeper with the federal government and state measuring performance in multiple student groups such as African-American, Hispanic, white, economically disadvantaged and special education, to name a few.
Provided these groups meet certain numbers, they are counted. A district or campus can be measured in as few as two categories or as many as 35 for AYP purposes. Missing in just one category even if it meets all others can cause a campus or district to miss AYP.
AYP considers standardized test performance for third- through eighth-graders and 10th-graders only. This year that meant two testing systems, the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, for third- through eighth-graders, and the old testing system, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS, for 10th-graders.
HOW TISD PERFORMED
The district failed to meet standard in 12 of 14 categories when it came to student performance in both subject areas.
Some 87 percent of test takers in reading/English language arts and 83 percent in math had to pass for the district to meet AYP.
TISD failed to meet this standard among all its students as well as among the following student groups: African-American, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, special education and limited English proficient (those students whose primary language is something other than English and who struggle to perform class work in English).
TISD's passing percentages met 80 percent or above in reading/ELA for all student groups except special education, which was 65 percent.
In math, passing percentages stood at 69 percent or higher in all student groups except special education, which was 60 percent.
Stakes were high for John Tyler this year. After missing federal standards in math for several years, a poor performance in that same category could have sent the school into Stage 5 of School Improvement requirements.
However, the campus met federal AYP standards in math, but missed them in reading/English language arts because of two of nine categories considered in that subject area. It remains in Stage 4.
At Robert E. Lee High School, student performance in two of five categories in reading/English language arts caused the school to miss AYP.
Boulter Middle School moves into Stage 3 of School Improvement requirements after failing to meet federal standards in math and reading student performance. The middle school met math standards last year, but missed them the previous three years.
At the middle school level, only Moore MST Magnet School met standard. And Birdwell and Owens were the only elementary schools to meet standard.
TISD as a whole and eight schools in the district are in Stage 1 of School Improvement requirements for missing federal standards in the same area for two or more consecutive years.
These campuses are Austin, Clarkston, Dixie, Griffin, Jones, Orr and Peete elementary schools and Dogan Middle School. Only schools that receive certain federal funds are subject to the school improvement requirements.
LOCAL AND STATE RESPONSE
She said it's been difficult if not impossible for school districts to compare this year's standardized test performance with last year primarily because the state transitioned to a new testing system this year.
However, she said, knowing that the new STAAR testing system is more difficult than the old and the district as a whole posted 85 percent and 80 percent passing percentages in reading/English language arts and math respectively is good news.
“We shifted up with the rigor of the test …,” she said. “I frankly think that's a great jumping off spot.”
However, those stats reflect only performance in the all student category and not individual subgroups, which were lower in some cases and higher in others.
Dr. Raney said student performance has been improving among TISD's African-American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students so the district is closing the achievement gap. And she is hopeful that the state's accountability system will be more reflective of the district's performance.
Dr. Raney said the district has raw score data and will use that as it determines where individual students struggled and how to address their academic needs.
“We've done a really good job over the last few years making the changes that we need to make to get there and this is not the system that I want us to be measured by,” she said, adding that when the new state accountability system is complete, that will give the district credit for the progress it is making.
Texas Education Agency spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said the state and local results deserve a closer look.
“The numbers can be disheartening when you first look at them, but really parents need to think about all the other information and programs and data that goes along with their school and school district,” Ms. Culbertson said by phone. “This is just one indicator and certainly they need to look beyond that to judge the quality of their schools.”