TEA releases school letter grades; Central Texas school districts improve scores

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CENTRAL TEXAS (KWTX) Central Texas largest school districts improved their respective school accountability ratings in 2019, earning B grades compared to last year's C grades.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) on Wednesday released academic accountability ratings for school districts and campuses in Texas. The A through F ratings are based primarily on standardized tests taken by students in grades three through 12 during the 2018-2019 school year. 2019 is the first year individual schools received A-F letter grades.

The Region 12 school districts that received an A grade are Abbott ISD, Aquilla ISD, Axtell ISD, China Spring ISD, Coolidge ISD, Crawford ISD, Goldthwaite ISD, Holland ISD, Lorena ISD, Midway ISD, Mildred ISD and Troy ISD.

Two Region 12 school districts received a D grade: Dew ISD and Rosebudd-Lott ISD. No other school district in Region 12 received a lower letter grade.

WACO ISD: B (81/100)

The Waco Idenpendent School District improved from last year, receiving a B grade and an overall score of 81 out of 100. Last year, the district received a C grade and an overall score of 76.

"Today's ratings are both a reason to celebrate and a reminder that our work is far from done," said Waco ISD Interim Superintendent Dr. Hazel Rowe, "It is gratifying that Waco ISD's overall rating has improved to a B. That is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of our educators and our students."

Of the 22 Waco ISD campuses rated, five received a B grade, including University and Waco High schools. Brook Avenue Elementary, which the district said had been rated "Improvement Required," increased its overall score by 20 points and received a C this year. Last year's designation was the equivalent of an F grade, the district said.

Rowe acknowledged several Waco ISD schools are still struggling per the state's letter grade system. According to the TEA, seven Waco ISD schools received a failing grade. The schools are Brazos High School, Cesar Chavez Middle School, Dean Highland Elementary, Carver Middle School, Hines Elementary, Mountainview Elementary and South Waco Elementary.

"These ratings matter, and they are important. However, they don't measure everything that matters, and they definitely don't capture all that is important," Rowe said, "Trying to reduce everything that happens in a school over the course of a year to a single letter grade based mostly on how students do on a few standardized tests is a fool's errand. Learning is more complex than that, and not every student starts their educational journey in the same place."

BELTON ISD: B (88/100)

The Belton Independent School District received a solid B grade with an overall score of 88. That is an improvement from last year's overall score of 83.

Belton ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said more than 25 percent of the district's students scored at the "mastery" level.

The school district also achieved "more than 100 Advanced Placement Scholars with seven seniors being recognized as National Merit Commended and National Hispanic Scholars for high performance on the PSAT," said Kincannon.

No Belton ISD school received a grade lower than C.

COPPERAS COVE ISD: B (83/100)

The Copperas Cove Independent School District matched its grade from last year. It received a B with an overall score of 83 out of 100.

KILLEEN ISD: B (86/100)

The Killeen Independent School District improved this year, earning a B grade and an overall score of 86 out of 100. Last year, it received a C grade and a 76 score.

"The district is excited to see growth across all three domains and we congratulate students and staff on progress made," said Killeen ISD Superintendent Dr. John Craft, "We will remain committed to our mission of ensuring all students attain their maximum learning potential."

Four district schools received an A grade: Killeen Early College High School, Clear Creek Elementary, Union Grove Middle School and Clarke Elementary.

MIDWAY ISD: A (93/100)

The Midway Independent School District matched its grades from last year. The school district received an A grade with an overall score of 93 out of 100.

“While we are pleased with once again achieving an A rating as a district, Midway ISD believes in educating the whole child, not simply producing good test takers on a single day event. Our hard-working teachers, staff members and administrators strive to create innovative learning environments that engage our students while preparing them to master state-wide curriculum standards," Superintendent Dr. George Kazanas said. "Midway ISD has been committed for multiple years towards a state-wide movement to create an authentic, community-based accountability system. We will continue to develop an appropriate measurement system that evaluates all aspects of educating well-rounded students who are creative, collaborative critical thinkers and communicators.”

TEMPLE ISD: B (81/100)

The Temple Independent School District received a B grade and an overall score of 81 out of 100. That is an improvement from last year's score, when the district received a C grade and an overall score of 73.

Nine Temple ISD schools received a B grade. No school received a failing grade.

STATEWIDE

The Texas Education Agency announced hundreds of districts and schools statewide improved their overall rating from 2018.

"Performance continues to improve in Texas schools because of the tireless effort of Texas teachers, administrators and staff. I am particularly proud of the educators at the 296 high-poverty schools that achieved an A rating this year," said Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

Across the state, 257 school districts and 1,584 schools received an A grade. In addition, 622 school districts and 3,051 schools received a B grade.

Six school districts and 363 schools received an F, the lowest grade in the scale.