All Tarrant County school districts received passing grades in the state’s accountability ratings, but 23 individual campuses failed to meet the standard, including two Fort Worth elementary schools that are chronic low performers and could put the Fort Worth school district at risk.
More than 8,700 schools in 1,200 school districts as well as charter schools in Texas are evaluated and rated as “met standard” or “improvement required,” according to the results released Tuesday by the Texas Education Agency.
The system is based on several factors: passing rates on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR), student progress, closing achievement gaps, and college and career readiness.
Tarrant County schools that are labeled “improvement required” are from the Arlington (3), Crowley (3), Fort Worth (14) and Lake Worth (1) school districts. Two charter schools also failed to meet the state standard. Low-performing schools can face a variety of sanctions over time.
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“It’s affirming to see the progress and success at so many of our campuses,” said Arlington Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos in a press release. He also touted four campuses that received all possible distinctions.
The Arlington school district had three elementary schools rated “improvement required,” including Wimbish Elementary that has rated below standard multiple years.
“Wimbish has made strong academic gains over the last two years, and supports have been expanded for the coming year to drive continued improvements,” Cavazos said.
School districts in which all campuses received “met standard” ratings include: Azle, Birdville, Burleson, Castleberry, Carroll, Eagle-Mountain Saginaw, Everman, Grapevine-Colleyville, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Keller, Mansfield, Northwest, Springtown and White Settlement.
Carroll and H-E-B were among the 58 districts in the state that earned designations for postsecondary readiness, which looks at graduation rates, ACT/SAT participation and performance, and other measures.
Campuses that received passing grades can also earn special academic designations, including 23 from Tarrant County. The states recognized 400 campuses that earned all possible distinctions this year.
“Amazing work takes place in classrooms across our state every school day, but especially on these campuses where every possible distinction has been earned,” Commissioner of Education Mike Morath said in a news release.
Fort Worth’s Young Women’s Leadership Academy was among schools mentioned by the state for strong performance.
“The distinctions earned by the Young Women’s Leadership Academy are evidence that the smaller, specialized schools can be successful,” Fort Worth Superintendent Kent Scribner said in a statement. “The consistent application of academic rigor and relevance result in our students being prepared for success in college and career.”
Chris Chappotin, principal at Centennial High School in Burleson, grooves with other principals and the superintendent to some back-to-school beats in a pop parody of Bruno Mars’ summer hit “That’s What I Like.”
Ratings, by the numbers
24 Tarrant County schools received “improvement required” ratings, an improvement over last year, when 26 schools were low performing.
14 Fort Worth schools received “improvement required” ratings.
23 Tarrant County schools (400 statewide) earned all possible academic distinctions.
371 statewide schools received “improvement required” ratings.
1,146 statewide schools that received “met standard” ratings.
Changes to the rating system will go into effect next school year, when the state will give school districts a grade of A-F while the campuses will receive either “met standard” or “improvement required. In 2019, the A-F is expected to be fully phased in so school districts and campuses will receive letter grades.
Best performing schools
Tarrant County schools that earned all possible distinctions applicable to that school.
Arlington: Bailey Junior High; Gunn Junior High; Fitzgerald Elementary; Pearcy Elementary
Azle: Cross Timbers Elementary
Birdville: Hardeman Elementary; Green Valley Elementary
Charter: Harmony Science Academy-Euless
Everman: Ray Elementary
Fort Worth: Young Women’s Leadership Academy
Hurst-Euless-Bedford: Central Junior High; Euless Junior High; Hurst Junior High; Harwood Junior High; Hurst Hills School; River Trails Elementary
Mansfield: Frontier High; Anderson Elementary; Cabaniss Elementary; Neal Elementary
Southlake Carroll: Carroll Senior High; Dawson Middle School; Durham Intermediate; Eubanks Intermediate
Up to seven distinction designations can be earned for Academic Achievement in English Language Arts/Reading; Academic Achievement in Mathematics; Academic Achievement in Science; Academic Achievement in Social Studies; Top 25 Percent: Student Progress; Top 25 Percent: Closing Performance Gaps; and Postsecondary Readiness.
Lowest performing schools
Tarrant County schools that received “improvement required” ratings for performing below the state standard.
Arlington: Wimbish Elementary, Short Elementary, Peach Elementary.
Charters: Texas Leadership Academy of Arlington, East Fort Worth Montessori Academy
Crowley: Deer Creek Elementary, Parkway Elementary, Hargrave Elementary.
Fort Worth: West Handley Elementary, Carroll Peak Elementary, Clarke Elementary, Como Elementary, Logan Elementary, Beal Elementary, White Elementary, Mitchell Boulevard Elementary, Walton Elementary, Sunrise-McMillian Elementary, Davis Elementary; Terrell Elementary, Glencrest Sixth Grade, Poly High.
Lake Worth: Marine Creek Elementary.
What it means for Fort Worth
While Fort Worth had the lowest number of low-performing schools in recent years, Maude Logan and John T. White elementary schools were tagged as “improvement required” campuses for the sixth and fifth straight year, respectively. Under a state law that goes into effect this year, the TEA could appoint managers to run the Fort Worth school district in 2018 if just one low-performing school fails to meet passing standards for five consecutive years.
Fort Worth school district administrators and trustees understand the sanctions that come with House Bill 1842, the law passed in 2015 that allows the education commissioner to close chronically low-performing schools and/or replace school boards that oversee districts with campuses that don’t make the grade.
“It only takes one school to shut everything down,” Ashley Paz, Fort Worth school board member, told the Star-Telegram last week.
Fort Worth officials have been working with the state on improvement plans aimed at helping chronically low performing schools succeed.
Five campuses, including Logan and White, are part of a program that is transforming the schools into academies with experienced teachers, focused learning in math and reading, and after-school programs. The other schools in the program are Como, Mitchell Boulevard and Forest Oak Middle School.
This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.