Days After Cheering TEA Ratings, DISD Misses Feds' Adequate Yearly Progress Standards

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Billboard designed by Thomas Wilson
One week ago today the Texas Education Agency sent word: With significant help from the state, the Dallas Independent School District racked up 63 exemplary schools, while several high schools long on the academically unacceptable list finally get a reprieve. Not all was well, as dropout and completion rates knocked some schools down a peg or two, but the super was happy enough: "This is yet another positive step forward in our journey to prepare all students of every background to be ready for college and the workforce," says Michael Hinojosa.

But late yesterday, the district acknowledged in another release: The district did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress standards required by feds. Those guidelines are much tougher than the state's: Says the TEA, "73 percent of the total students and the student groups must pass the reading Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), and 67 percent must pass the mathematics TAKS to earn the 'Meets AYP' label." That's a significant bump over last year's must-meets, when the passing standards were 67 percent for reading and 58 percent for mathematics.

"These standards will only continue to get more challenging," Hinojosa says. "While that may seem discouraging, it serves as an additional motivator for everyone associated with Dallas ISD."

DISD insists in the release that follows there's a very good reason why it Missed AYP: "The sole reason for the rating is that Dallas ISD tested more than 3% of its special education students with alternative tests, exceeding the 1% and 2% cap. Had the 3% cap limitation not been applied, Dallas ISD would be listed as having met AYP standards." Nevertheless, this marks the second year in a row DISD falls under the Missed AYP category -- which, if I'm reading my TEA report correctly, means the district, since it receives Title I funds, faces possible sanctions, with some Title I campuses headed for the School Improvement Program. I've got calls into the DISD and TEA to clarify.

Update at 11:35 a.m.: DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander responds, "According to our CFO, we are 'absolutely not' at risk of losing Title I funds."

The release from DISD follows. And you can go here to see the list of DISD campuses that did and didn't meet AYP. DISD starts on Page 48.
ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS RATINGS RELEASED
188 Dallas ISD Campuses Meet AYP; District Listed as Missing AYP for 2nd Year

DALLAS-Newly released Adequate Yearly Progress results from the Texas Education Agency indicate challenges for the Dallas Independent School District.

For the second year in a row, Dallas ISD is listed as Missing AYP standards. The sole reason for the rating is that Dallas ISD tested more than 3% of its special education students with alternative tests, exceeding the 1% and 2% cap. Had the 3% cap limitation not been applied, Dallas ISD would be listed as having met AYP standards.

"While this rating does not reach the same conclusion as some of the positive results seen on other reports, it does point our staff to areas that need improvement," said Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa. "These results will be taken to heart as we continue to prepare all students to be college and work-force ready."

One-hundred and eighty-eight Dallas ISD campuses, representing 82% of district schools, met AYP standards. Prior to appeals, the number of district schools listed as having missed AYP increased from 23 in 2009 to 35 in 2010. The standards for achieving AYP status increased by 6 percentage points in Reading/ELA, from a threshold of 67% passing to 73% passing, which is 3 points higher than the state accountability system. Similarly, the mathematics standard was raised 9 percentage points this school year, from 58% passing to 67% passing, 7 percentage points higher than the state system.

"These standards will only continue to get more challenging," said Hinojosa. "While that may seem discouraging, it serves as an additional motivator for everyone associated with Dallas ISD."

Eight secondary campuses that had missed AYP during 2009 met the standards this year. Those schools are: Kimball, Pinkston, Roosevelt, South Oak Cliff and Woodrow Wilson High Schools and Maynard Jackson, Pearl C. Anderson and Sarah Zumwalt Middle Schools.

The federal AYP ratings differ from the state's accountability system because more student groups and more assessments are measured. Some schools may meet AYP standards but could be listed by the state as academically unacceptable. Conversely, a school may be listed as a Recognized school yet be rated as missing AYP.

"As has been said previously, the multiple ratings likely cause confusion among the public," said Hinojosa. "At the same time, it forces educators to examine performance based on different criteria. That will only lead to creating more solutions for students throughout the city."

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