Gillespie schools make the grades

State accountability ratings released Friday showed that Fredericksburg Independent School District’s students are in good hands.

Only two scores were given this year’s ratings from the Texas Education Agency: either “met the standard” or “improvement required.” These are rated on standardized testing (STAAR tests), student progress, closing performance gaps and “post-secondary readiness” or graduation statistics, such as how many enrolled in dual-credit courses or career tech.

Every FISD campus met the mark for academic performance. And while the legislature will consider the value and wisdom of constant standardized testing, we are proud that FISD has “made the grade” in every aspect. Harper ISD also met all standards, as did Doss Common Consolidated School District, so Gillespie public schools still give a value to parents and their child’s education.

In fact, FISD was just one indicator short of receiving a distinction designation, something only 26 districts throughout the state received this year.

More than 1,200 school districts and charter schools making up more than 8,500 campuses were included in this year’s assessments.  Ratings reveal 90 percent of them met state standards.

The TEA’s formula can seem like a moving target for districts given variables of income, demographics and special education, among others. It’s a formula that can be so complex, the TEA has created an animated video to show parents how districts are judged. (Parents can view it at http://youtu.be/cbEgrdijuc8.)

The ratings are intended to let parents of school children know how their campuses stack up against other districts around the state. By looking at the scores at www.tea.state.tx.us, parents can see the performance across all subjects, measure student progress, track achievement of economically disadvantaged students and see how much priority is placed in a diploma.

We recognize the hard work put in by students, teachers and administrators throughout the past years. We also recognize the value of all the districts do that are not measured by standardized testing: marching bands, student creativity, FISD’s rockets program and much more.

This was the first year of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test, which replaced the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). Because some factors changed from the year before, the ratings released can’t be compared apples to apples with the previous tests. Next year will surely be different still, but rest assured districts in Gillespie County continue to make the grade.

It is a testament to our teachers, staff and administrators that they continue to navigate these complex systems while still providing a top-notch education for our students.

For those reasons and many more, we should continue to support our public schools. They are only as good as we make them. And in Gillespie County, we make them very good.

COUNTY SCORES

                State target        FISD    Harper

Student achievement            55        82    86   

Student progress            16        39    28

Closing achievement gaps        28        41    45

Post-secondary readiness        57        72    76

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