San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 3rd, 2009
San Marcos CISD falls to 'unacceptable'


A near-miss in a new scoring category dropped the San Marcos CISD to a rating of academically unacceptable in statewide accountability ratings released last week by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

All of the San Marcos CISD campuses ranked academically acceptable or better. Three elementary schools — Bowie, Crockett and DeZavala — all ranked exemplary, which is the highest grade in the TEA accountability ratings. Travis Elementary School took the recognized rating, which is the second highest out of four categories.

The remaining campuses rated academically acceptable, which includes San Marcos High School, Pride High School, Goodnight Junior High School, Miller Junior High School, and Hernandez Intermediate School.

However, San Marcos CISD fell to academically unacceptable overall because of its completion rate, which is the percentage of students who graduate within four year of entering high school. The TEA standard for completion rate is that 75 percent of students overall and for each subcategory must graduate within four years of entering high school. The ranking takes into account the graduating class from the previous year. TEA factored in the completion rate for the first time in this year’s ratings.

Though the graduating class of 2008 across San Marcos CISD flashed a completion rate of 85.1 percent, economically disadvantaged students graduated at a rate of 74.5 percent, one-half of a percent short of enabling the school district to maintain its academically acceptable rating.

Said San Marcos CISD Superintendent Patty Shafer, “(T)aking into account changes to the accountability system, we know that we are making progress in our completion rate, and we will continue and intensify our efforts to ensure that students receive and complete an excellent program of high school curriculum within four years.”

Joy Philpott, the director of accountability and school improvement at San Marcos CISD, noted that the school district received the exemplary rating in 17 of 25 measures assessed from performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). Philpott also said Crockett and DeZavala Elementary Schools took a step up to the exemplary rating this year, and that Travis Elementary took a step up to recognized.

“We’ve seen real gains from our Literacy Collaborative and math initiatives, and our partnerships with Texas State are bearing fruit in increased performance in science,” said Yolanda Almendarez, San Marcos CISD’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “The class of 2008 was one of the first to experience the changes to curriculum and instruction that are reaping such benefits in increasing student performance. Those changes, along with more structured support and intervention through ninth grade teaming and closer alignment between principals at San Marcos High School, Pathfinder, and PRIDE, will yield higher graduation rates for all student groups.”

Hays CISD maintained its rating of academically acceptable across the district. Three elementary schools — Buda, Elm Grove and Susie Fuentes — all hauled exemplary rankings. Three other elementary schools — Kyle, Science Hall and Blanco Vista — all rated recognized.

The remaining Hays CISD campuses ranked as academically acceptable, including Hays High School, Lehman High School, Academy High School, Barton Middle School, Dahlstrom Middle School, Wallace Middle School, Chapa Middle School, Tom Green Elementary School, Hemphill Elementary School, Tobias Elementary School, and Camino Real Elementary School.

The other two Hays County school districts — Wimberley ISD and Dripping Springs ISD — each ranked recognized across the board.

In the Dripping Springs district, Walnut Springs Elementary School and Rooster Springs Elementary School each rated exemplary, while Dripping Springs Elementary School rated recognized. Dripping Springs Middle School and Dripping Springs High School both ranked recognized.

The Wimberley district showed up differently in that its higher level schools did better than its lower grades. While Wimberley High School and Wimberley Junior High School each rated exemplary, Bowen Intermediate School and Scudder Primary School both ranked recognized.

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0 thoughts on “San Marcos CISD falls to 'unacceptable'

  1. Unfortunately, economically disadvantaged students constitute about 2/3 of our district (thanks to the $16,000 per capita income in San Marcos).

    Also, failing by one half of a percent is still failing and passing by one half of a percent would have been a distinction without a difference, IMO.

    These graduation rates for economically disadvantaged students are appalling:

    2008 74.5%
    2007 68.7%
    2006 73.4%
    2005 77.5%
    2004 73.8%
    2003 73.4%
    2002 60.5%
    2001 67.6%

    By the current standard, we would have been rated unacceptable for 7 of the last 8 years. In fact, our overall graduation rate has flirted with, or fallen below 75% in 5 of the last 8 years.

    This is not a matter of our school district falling victim to a new standard, this is a matter of the state recognizing our poor performance.

    I hope this report puts to rest the argument that there is a “perception problem,” with regards to our school system. In my mind, we should be striving for exemplary or recognized, across the board. If unacceptable represents a failing grade, acceptable would represent a C/D, which is nothing to brag about. NONE of our schools above the elementary level rated exemplary or recognized. All junior high and high schools were marginal, at best.

    As I have said before, we may be making progress, but there is still MUCH work to be done and this report makes comments some made earlier this year that our school district is exemplary, all the more insulting.

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