San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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June 16th, 2009
SMCISD rated among 50 'over-achieving' districts

STAFF REPORT

In a report on a national ten-year study, San Marcos CISD (SMCISD) was listed as one of 50 “over-achieving” school districts. The study, called “Diplomas Count 2009,” was released by Education Week, an annual publication by Bethesda, MD, based Editorial Projects in Education (EPE).

According to the study, SMCISD has the number seven position in the nation for the ten-year trend in graduation rates. EPE predicted the graduation rate growth to be plus five percent.

The report identified a pool of school districts that matched the profile of the nation’s largest urban centers. Based on the data, which was collected from 1996 to 2006, districts that demonstrated the highest graduation rates and growth, relative to expectations based on their demographic and structural characteristics, were singled out for further study.

“The report provides detailed data on graduation rates for the nation, all 50 states, and every school district,” said Nell Bang-Jansen of EPE. “The report also focuses on students’ academic preparedness for postsecondary education, or ‘college readiness.’ It examines the type of academic preparation students receive, strategies for measuring readiness, and ways to hold schools accountable. Diplomas Count 2009 also tracks graduation policies and presents a new graduation-rate analysis that explores improvements and performance relative to expectations.”

“This national study and subsequent report validates what we’ve known in our hearts all along: that San Marcos CISD educators are working hard to see that our community’s youth graduate prepared to face life both college and career-ready,” said SMCISD Superintendent Patty Shafer. “It validates that our children are working hard and are focused on acquiring a quality education and their high school diploma, and it validates the outstanding support that parents, families, and the community give to their local children and teachers. Since this is a ten-year study, it is evident that SMCISD is finally being recognized for the ‘exemplary’ district that it is and has been for a long time.”

The full report can be read here.

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0 thoughts on “SMCISD rated among 50 'over-achieving' districts

  1. It actually does not say that we are exemplary. It says that we are progressing faster than most. We still have a LOOOOOONG way to go and we would do well to stop deluding ourselves.

    That report shows that Texas overall is ranked 36 of 50 for graduation rates and while I could not pull individual district data from their site, I could get it from the TEA site (which Education Week, the source of this report, says underreports our dropout rate).

    According to the TEA, we rank around 850 out of 1050 school districts in Texas for graduation rates. We also rank around 730 out of 1000 districts for graduating Hispanic students (some districts either have none, or have too few to report). And we rank around 820 out of 1050 for graduation of economically disadvantaged students.

    So, while I applaud any long-term progress that has been made, let’s call a spade a spade. We are in the bottom 20% of all districts, in a state that is in the bottom 30% of all states. There is much work to be done and now is not the time to be patting ourselves on the backs.

  2. Also, please note that this report covers the trends from 1996 to 2006 and while I am sure we would all like to believe that our progress has continued at the same rate, this report neither confirms nor denies this.

    In fact, according to the TEA website, in 2005 we graduated 80% of our students and in 2006 we graduate 81%. In 2007? 76%.

    That sounds like a step in the opposite direction.

    So, let’s continue to press forward the best that we can and stop trying to convince ourselves that our schools are good enough today.

  3. On top of that, probably another 1/3 of the 70/80% are graduating from PRIDE, Pathfinder, and programs through Gary Job Corps. I’d like to see the numbers of the students who actually graduate from San Marcos High School separated out in the graduation numbers and distinguished from those other programs. I’ve studied this in the past and quite shocking to say the very least.

  4. Even numbers can be manipulated- students that have dropped out can be creatively coded to mask the fact that they are drop-outs. I remember the Houston school district being caught doing this to bring their numbers down. I’m not saying SMCISD did this, but it has made me wary of these types of ‘findings’.

    If the school district is “over-achieving” then more reason for the board to be embarrassed by the fact that our teachers are the poorest paid teachers in the Austin- San Antonio area. It is heart breaking to watch them at board meetings asking for an additional 1% raise on top of the 1% raise given them. (What do our teacher turn-over rates look like? How much is spent in training new teachers) Instead, I understand each year more money is being paid to people who don’t work directly with the children. There appears to be a trend in hiring coaches (academic, not athletic) to teach the teachers and even coaches to coach the coaches! These are out of state consultants, so it can’t be cheap and has been going on for over 4 years.

    I also heard that the district had to go to Mexico to hire around 5 new bilingual teachers because they couldn’t fill those postions locally. Does anyone know the facts about this?

    Sorry for going off topic…..

  5. From the TEA site, it appears that statewide, there are about 30 bilingual students for every bilingual teacher. In SMCISD, there are about 190 bilingual studetns for every bilingual teacher. If we had five more teachers, that would bring the ratio down to 72 students per teacher. So, it sounds plausible that they might be looking for more, but it seems like they ought to be looking for about 15 more, not 5.

    Also, I have to wonder if we would have more students in bilingual programs, if we had the proper staffing levels. Despite a proportionately HUGE Hispanic population, only 8% of our students are in bilingual programs, compared to 16% statewide.

    I don’t know about availability of bilingual teachers, either. It seems like we could offer training for the ones we have already. Also, Hays ISD has about 60 bilingual teachers (to our 3), which puts them at 25 students per teacher.

  6. Our district only has 3 bilingual teachers??? 190 bilingual students for each teacher? That can’t be right- all the elementary schools have bilingual teachers for each grade. That doesn’t even count ESL teachers. I imagine Bonham has a high number since it helps close the language gaps for some of our children.
    Not sure about jr. high and high schools. I think the goal though is to exit students out of the bilingual program during middle-school years.

    Does the study “Diplomas Count” follow up on the graduated students to see how many successfully complete college? Tech schools? Employment? It takes more than guaranteeing each SMHS graduate automatic admission to local colleges or $500 thrown at them. What happens to our graduates after the $500 is gone and they are enrolled in college-level classes? How do TSU professors rank SMHS graduates?

  7. The TEA site lists SMCISD as having 3 bilingual/ESL teachers. I suspect that there is more to being a teacher in that program than just speaking Spanish.

  8. Also, I do not believe that all SMHS grads are guaranteed admission to “local colleges.” They are guaranteed admission to ACC. Sadly, I do not believe that is something unique to San Marcos, despite our school board president touting it as an example of our success.

    From the ACC website:

    “Austin Community College makes it easy to take the next steps toward your future with an open-door policy that encourages all students to explore all the options available.

    You are eligible for admission if you are:

    *A high school graduate or GED recipient

    *A non-high school graduate who is at least 18 years old and can demonstrate skill proficiencies that support an ability to benefit from college-level instruction

    *A current high school student who has completed the sophomore year or a home-schooled student who has reached 16 and is academically prepared for college-level instruction”

  9. yeah id like to see a report on the number of pregnancies in the high school and the estimated cost since we give free daycare at the high school. it hink it was my freshman year that 45 FRESHMEN got pregnant that year. just freshmen. thats one out of every five freshman girls. i dont know what the numbers are now though. also about this article above, i would like to see the amount of people who graduate from pride, pathfinders, and those who switch to pride or pathfinders but then switch back to smhs 2 weeks before graduation so they can have smhs on their diploma, and how many students enroll in summer school each year.

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