State changes school evaluation reports


Ben Prengler

After the first Ebola case in America, the school board immediately met to discus the disease control protocol.

Savannah Whitmer, News Editor

Every year, districts receive reports from the state on school progress and college readiness much like students receive report cards. As state testing finishes, school districts will be awaiting these academic reports. However, this year’s report will be new for districts, with different evaluation processes and changes to requirements from previous years.

For the first time, the test results of English-language learners who have been in U.S. schools for only two or three years will be included in district reports. Until this year, students who had less than four years of English learning were excluded.

“The impact has the potential of helping some elementary campuses who are making progress in Spanish but may negatively impact others with students tested in English,” Dallas’ assistant superintendent Cecilia Oakeley said to Dallas News.

In addition, some higher-achieving student scores will be excluded. The state will allow high scores from national tests in Advanced Placement and PSAT to count in the place of STAAR testing for the reports. However, students whose STAAR scores are substituted with national test scores will not boost district reports with extra credit, unlike students who receive above-average STAAR scores. Because of this, small districts may be affected when high-achieving students tested nationally do not receive credit for schools on reports.

“For the listed AP and IB substitutes, it was determined that the assessed curriculum content and skills were similar to the STAAR EOC assessments,” wrote the TEA in a 2013 revision. “For the AP and IB substitute test options, whenever feasible, the TEA established cut scores on the substitute assessments by examining scores colleges and universities in Texas typically require for students seeking credit for college coursework.”

These changes will affect the way schools are evaluated, but will probably not affect most of what goes on in classrooms. For schools that exceed academic standards, the reports are welcome, changed or not.

“Because LHS students perform so well academically, state reports are a validation of the great work our teachers and students are doing,” principal Chris Mayfield said. “Our students have consistently performed at high levels. This reporting should reflect well on LHS.”