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

July 29th, 2011
The List: Do San Marcos schools measure up?

The Texas Education Agency on Friday released school accountability ratings based on student performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Four elementary schools in San Marcos earned Recognized ratings but, for two of those, it was a step down from Exemplary.

District/School 2011 rating 2010 rating
San Marcos CISD
San Marcos High Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Goodnight Middle Acceptable Recognized Read More
Miller Middle Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Bowie Elementary Recognized Exemplary Read More
Crockett Elementary Recognized Exemplary Read More
DeZavala Elementary Recognized Recognized Read More
Travis Elementary Acceptable Recognized Read More
Hernandez Elementary Recognized Recognized Read More
Mendez Elementary Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Jack C. Hays High Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Lehman High Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Academy High Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Barton Middle Acceptable Recognized Read More
Dahlstrom Middle Acceptable Recognized Read More
Wallace Middle Acceptable Recognized Read More
Chapa Middle Acceptable Recognized Read More
Simon Middle Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Kyle Elementary Recognized Recognized Read More
Tom Green Elementary Acceptable Recognized Read More
Buda Elementary Recognized Exemplary Read More
Elm Grove Elementary Exemplary Exemplary Read More
Fuentes Elementary Recognized Exemplary Read More
Hemphill Elementary Acceptable Acceptable Read More
Tobias Elementary Recognized Recognized Read More
Negley Elementary Exemplary Exemplary Read More
Science Hall Elementary Acceptable Recognized Read More
Blanco Vista Elementary Recognized Recognized Read More
Camino Real Elementary Recognized Recognized Read More
Carpenter Hill Elementary Exemplary N/A Read More
Pfluger Elementary Recognized N/A Read More
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30 thoughts on “The List: Do San Marcos schools measure up?


    On Friday, July 29, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released state accountability ratings for the 2010-2011 school year. Standards for ratings this year were higher as two new components, Commended Performance and English Language Learner Progress measure, were added to the system which evaluates schools and districts on TAKS passing rates, the dropout rate for grades 7 and 8, and the completion rate for high school seniors.

    Four SMCISD elementary schools–Bowie, Crockett, DeZavala, and Hernandez–earned Recognized Ratings from the Texas Education Agency. All other campuses and the district are Academically Acceptable.

    SMCISD Superintendent of Schools, Mark E. Eads, notes growth in performance despite a nominal drop in ratings. “SMCISD saw growth in 18 of 24 TAKS performance measures assessed. This year’s ratings did not account for student growth through the Texas Projection Measure as last year’s ratings did, and our schools continue to make progress,” Eads said.

    District-wide performance in Reading, Writing, and Math were at recognized levels with social studies performance at an exemplary level. Percentages of students performing at commended rates in reading and math were also at recognized levels. The district saw the strongest growth in math and science scores, and science performance remains the greatest challenge for the district.

    The district is aggressively pursuing performance in science, working in conjunction with Texas State University on the STELLAR grant which supports science instruction in grades K-8 and with a National Science Foundation Grant, Project Flowing Waters, which engages students and faculty in grades 6-12. SMCISD faculty presented strategies at a STELLAR conference earlier this week.

    “We are aware of our challenges and are working closely in conjunction with Texas State to leverage state and federal resources to address our local challenges—and to share our findings with the rest of the state. We are poised and ready to meet the higher standards of the new STAAR assessments which our students will begin taking in the spring of 2012,” notes Yolanda Almendarez, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning.

  2. Two exemplary campuses dropped to recognized. Two recognized campuses dropped to acceptable. The district dropped from recognized to acceptable. That’s not a nominal drop. Enough with the spin attempts.

    Enough smoke and mirrors. Every year, our poor results are explained away by changes in how things are measured. Somehow other districts manage to get good ratings.

    That the TPM was not included this year, only means that these are the real results, not some bogus “projected” results. If we have been improving, then that means last year’s applauded results were actually even worse than these.

    Just tell us how we’re going to fix this mess. We’re a “property wealthy” district, with resources that few, if any, other districts have. There is no excuse for not striving for an exemplary rating.

  3. Budget Workshop, Monday at 5:30 p.m at the SMCISD Central Office Building. Hold your elected officials responsible. See how they plan to spend millions of dollars to fix our “Perception Problem”…

  4. Ted,
    Seriously, I take it you don’t have kids on our schools, yet you are very very very vocal in the test results though. You’re a guy who looks at the “ON PAPER” results.

    How are you suggesting other districts are better? Hays doesn’t stand out either. Austin is even worse. Seriously Ted? You just have a stick up your a$$ when it comes to our schools. My kids have excelled greatly here, and the scores are down graded by a bunch of children from the “wrong side of the tracks”. I will forever disagree with you on the assesment of schools here. ALL SCHOOLS NEED UPGRADING. But your endless tirade against SMICSD is ridiculous.

    Please tell me, do you have children in the schools here???

  5. Wimberley is better. Dripping Springs is better. Navarro is better. Comal is better. Districts like ours, across the state are better.

    I look at graduation rates. This report, unfortunately, does not deal with graduation rates.

    I have never said ALL students do poorly. In fact, I have always acknowledged that kids from “the right side of the tracks” do fine. Unfortunately, that is not who most of our kids are.

    Where you and I disagree, is that you think it is ok for kids on “the wrong side of the tracks” to do poorly, and I do not. Our school district is here to serve ALL of our students. Not just the affluent white ones.

  6. Prior to this report coming out, I stated that I was concerned about a backslide. And we did. And I pointed thta out. Despite having children in our schools, you did not see this coming, it seems. Tell me, do you have children at all of our schools? In every grade? Are they poor? Are they Hispanic?

    I would suggest that you look at ALL of the thousands of students we are supposed to serve, not just yours. Every demographic, at every grade level, on every campus.

  7. Yeah, I have a stick up my ass re: our schools. If more people did, we might see some improvement, rather than yet another explanation of why the various reports just aren’t showing our improvement, and we have a “perception problem.”

  8. Before I head over to “the wrong side of the tracks” for dinner, I will point out that, depending on how you are defining that group (ethnicity, income, or both), they represent 70-75% of our students, making “the wrong side of the tracks,” the right side, in my book. I’ll take the stick out of my ass, when we figure out how to serve that HUGE portion of our population, who, IMO are as integral to the character and history of our city, as the university.

  9. Ted, keep asking questions and keep raising hell!

    It’s people like Gman that perpetuate and exacerbate the problems in our schools. It’s easier to say that things just “look” bad instead of admitting there is a problem and actually doing something to fix the problem.

    San Marcos Local News, keep digging. The district not wanting to release Van Nest’s severance package is just the tip of the iceberg.

    We are currently doing a disservice to our taxpayers, students, and this community as long as we buy into the argument that “it’s only a perception problem.”

    Gman, I am glad to hear you and your children have found success in our schools. I hope this district equips your children with the tools necessary to become successful in the future. Whether it be as an engineer, doctor, or a car mechanic. But at the same time the sad reality is that you are the exception and not the rule.

  10. The reality is that the percentage of school districts in Texas that are rated “acceptable” is now over half (53%). That used to be 27%. Most schools and districts slipped because of the formula. Yes, we should continue to demand excellence, but the stats don’t prove that our schools took a dramatic turn for the worse. Comparing SMCISD to Wimberley and DP is not a fair comparison. What is the percentage of students in these districts who live below the poverty line? Compare SMCISD to schools with similar demographics: Seguin, Hays, etc. FYI, Seguin did worse and Hays doesn’t look any better. I’m just not seeing these other surrounding districts do significantly better. All of these posts make it sound like our school district is about as bad as it gets in the state.

  11. Ted, as an elected member of the SMCISD Board of Trustees (District 5) I too am displeased with the recent test scores. There are some significant differences between San Marcos and especially Dripping Springs and Wimberley. That does not change our obligation to continue to provide a better education to all of the students of SMCISD and we have room for improvement. Although I speak only for myself here I believe there are other members of the board who also feel the time for excuses is over and the time for positive yet aggressive steps to improve many areas of this district need to happen and happen quickly.

    I really feel you should consider spending some time volunteering your time in some of our schools and or join some committees involving a number of district processes. Your constant negative comments do not help the district move forward or move towards making positive progress and helping to change our image. Yes Ted I agree we need to make some real changes in a number of areas in the district however I believe there are more constructive methods to make this change occur and I do not believe in smoke and mirrors either.
    Personally I have been out voted on a number of issues including the recent issue of the former athletic director (AD) and the new coach. However the Board made a decision and it is time to move forward without our former AD and with a new interim AD and hope SMCISD will have a better football season, and transition to a new permanent AD next semester. There have been some changes on the Board and I believe the Board will make decisions that benefit students, hold administration accountable, and spend tax payer dollars in an efficient manner while we improve this district.

    I did not run for the position of trustee because I thought everything was great in SMCISD. I ran for a number of reasons but to be brief to make it a better district, make our students prepared for college or a vocational career after high school and to help ensure good conservative decisions are made about how OUR tax payers dollars are spent.

    Sincerely, John P. Crowley MS RD LD
    SMCISD District 5 Trustee

  12. I wish it was just a perception problem, but alas it is not. I have often said over the years that if you have children in this district and you are ready and able to advocate (at times forcefully) then your child will most probably excell. Do I have children in the district? No, I don’t and (for now) hope I never will.
    But I have worked in just about every school in the district and have listened and learned from the staff. You know, you would be wise to listen to what the para’s, custodians, and Cafeteria workers think about the school’s where they work. From them you would learn whats right and whats wrong with our district. Now don’t get me wrong NOT ALL of the administrators and teachers are bad. Yes, I have worked with some real losers. In fact there are and were some grossly incompetent teachers and administrators that I have come in contact with and not all are gone. I can’t name their names anymore than I can name the really GREAT teachers and administrators I have worked with but for a different reason. If I name the good ones they will be targeted and most probably have to find a new place to work.
    As for me even writing this will most probably mean that I can never work for this district again. I am not so sure that is such a bad thing right now. Someone once said that perception is reality, but what if reality is reality? Of course this is just one BISM’s opinion.

  13. Joe, I have posted info from districts with the same demographics as us, multiple times. There are districts poorer than ours, which spend far less, and achieve far more.

  14. John, thanks for the reply. It is refreshing to hear what you have said.

    I am sorry that you feel that I am too negative, and that this is not constructive, but in my mind, without a relatively small number of us willing to regularly call a spade a spade, we would not have gotten to the point where *anyone* on the school board was saying “the time for excuses is over and the time for positive yet aggressive steps to improve many areas of this district need to happen and happen quickly. ” It was not long ago, at all, that we were stringing banners across our roads, proclaiming our excellence, and telling people that we have an “exemplary” district, and people just don’t see it.

    So, in my mind, raising these issues, firmly, vocally, and regularly, has begun to pay off.

    If I hear more comments like yours, from the board, and the superintendent, I’ll have a lot less to complain about, and will be your most vocal supporter. I’m not going to support “perception problem” propaganda.

  15. I’ve made it abundantly clear how to win my support (or shut me up, if that is the goal): acknowledge that we have real issues, tell us how we plan to address them, and then follow through. I’m not even interested in evaluating/criticizing the plans. I just want to get past the notion that there is no problem, or that poor Hispanic kids are just going to under-perform, and there is nothing we can do about it.

    Our schools can work for our students. Other districts like ours have demonstrated that.

  16. John – I personally don’t view Ted’s posts as “negative comments”. Ted researches and posts more hard data than even this site or any other posters. The way the system adjusts achievement and graduation rates makes it impossible for a quick understanding of our performance. I’m grateful to Ted for the time he spends researching and deciphering this important data. I’d like to see even more research on our demographics because I think they are MUCH worse than other districts Ted compares us to. A person close to me is a teacher and I hear first hand the stories of children in her classes. Single teen parents, parents in prison, no supervision, no reinforcement of lesson plans at home, no reading, no respect for the school system. We live in a VERY impoverished area. If I could wave a wand I would have Hays ISD give up anything south of the Blanco as that will, in the long run, be where the growth of our better demographic occurs. It makes no sense for one side of Hilliard to be in Hays and the other in SMCISD. We run buses from both districts out that road at great expense and inefficiency. We also must pursue job creation to bring more affluent families into the district. Jobs and ISD quality are a real chicken-and-egg phenomenon but we must work on both.

  17. Rain Dear, thanks. I don’t view it as negative, either. I think we ought to be striving for an exemplary rating, top graduation rates, and a path to success after high school. In my mind, it is the people who are trying to say we are good enough, or that certain demographic groups just can’t do any better, or listing off all the reasons we can’t compare ourselves to Wimberley, Dripping Springs, etc., who are being negative.

    Our path to success may not be the same as other districts, but there is no reason we should not strive for the same success (or more).

  18. Today’s article in the Daily Record was a bit shocking re: school scores. They seem to be dropping in the entire state…and fairly dramatic.

    SMHS is the same rating as New Braunfels High FYI.

    To quote the story:
    “For example, in 2010 there were 241 districts rated as Exemplary. This year it dramatically dropped to just 61.”

    “The San Marcos CISD is rated as Academically Acceptable with the high school and both middle schools receiving the same rating. Bowie, Crockett, DeZavala and Hernandez elementaries all ranked as Recognized while Travis and Mendez are in the Academically Acceptable ranking.

    Dripping Springs ISD and Wimberley ISD both received Recognized rankings and Hays CISD received Academically Acceptable.

    Seguin ISD ranked Academically Acceptable, however, Sequin High School was ranked Academically Unacceptable.

    Navarro ISD ranked Recognized as did New Braunfels ISD, however, New Braunfels High School was ranked Academically Acceptable.

    And the Comal ISD is ranked Recognized but of the three high schools only Smithson Valley is ranked Recognized. Canyon High School and Canyon Lake High School were both ranked Academically Acceptable.”

  19. Ted, I am new to this site, so I haven’t seen your stats. Please show me which school districts that are poorer than SMCISD are performing significantly better. It would be good to see that there are more than a handful.

  20. These ratings are pretty borad, given that there are only four options. Graduation rates are a more granular look. Per earlier reports (the details for this one aren’t up yet):

    We graduate 69% of our Hispanic students and 67% of our economically disadvantaged students.

    Bangs ISD has 49% economically disadvantaged students. They graduate 92% of their Hispanic students and 78% of their economically disadvantaged students. They also pay their superintendent a little more than half what we pay.

    Los Fresnos ISD is 95% Hispanic. 79% economically disadvantaged. They graduate 81% of their Hispanic students and 82% of their economically disadvantaged students.

    At Eden ISD, they pay less than half what we pay, and they graduate 89% of their Hispanic students and 83% of their economically disadvantaged students.

    I have no idea how many others there are. Whether these are the exception, or the rule, there is no reason we could not strive for the same, or more. We have more money, and more resources.

  21. Interesting program in San Antonio, where the district had 97% Hispanic and 97% economically disadvantaged students. I’d be curious what people tied to this program would say, about what might work for our schools.

    http : // www .texaspolicy .com/pdf/2008-09-RR08-Horizon-vouchers.pdf

  22. Another district to look at, might be Hidalgo. While they also slipped to Academically Acceptable, they have been recognized or exemplary for something like 11 of the last 12 years, and they have a lot more challenges than we do.

    http :// www. utdanacenter. org/tcstem/downloads/learningtours/hidalgo.pdf

  23. Ted, San Marcos Local News no longer has a “no link” policy so feel free to include links in your postings.

  24. Here are some other Recognized/Exemplary districts, with large populations of economically disadvantaged students, which we might study, learn from, collaborate with, etc.

    Large-ish, poor, Recognized districts:

    Eagle Pass ISD
    Los Fresnos Consolidated ISD
    Valley View ISD (Hidalgo County)
    Weslaco ISD

    These appear to be smaller, but also may provide valuable information (all Exemplary or Recognized):

    Alpine ISD
    Anson ISD
    Chillicothe ISD
    Chireno ISD
    Denver City ISD
    Forestburg ISD
    Grady ISD
    Gruver ISD
    Hale Center ISD
    Hedley ISD
    Hillsboro ISD
    Keene ISD
    Knippa ISD
    Martins Mill ISD
    Mason ISD
    Maud ISD
    McLean ISD
    Moulton ISD
    Mumford ISD
    New Home ISD
    Orange Grove ISD
    Palacios ISD
    Plains ISD
    Plemons-Stinett-Phillips CISD
    Point Isabel ISD
    Prairiland ISD
    Robert Lee ISD
    Roscoe ISD
    Saltillo ISD
    Sam Rayburn ISD
    San Isidro ISD
    San Perlita ISD
    Silverton ISD
    Stratford ISD
    Sundown ISD
    Vega ISD
    Wellington ISD
    Wellman-Union Consolidated ISD
    Whitewright ISD

    Also, Spring Branch ISD is only Academically Acceptable, but they have 10 Exemplary campuses and 8 recognized. I believe their one Academically Unacceptable campus prevents them from receiving a higher rating for the district.

    There seem to be ample examples to work from, so I would say again that it is those who say we can do no better (or can’t realize the success of Wimberley and Dripping Springs), who are being negative, not I.

  25. Is the passing score on the science portion of the TAKS test still 25 out of 100? If so, then any scores need to be taken with a grain of salt. They’re about moving bodies through the grinder in 4 years not educating kids for the future.

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