Two Galveston County school districts — Friendswood and Clear Creek — are ranked among the top five in Greater Houston area by the nonprofit organization Children at Risk.
The group has ranked school campuses and districts across the state every year since 2006 using standardized test scores and demographic data. The group released its 2014 rankings this week, and Friendswood was No. 3 and Clear Creek was No. 4 on the list of 58 school districts.
A trio of mid-county school districts came in the bottom five of the list — Santa Fe was ranked 54th, La Marque was 55th and Hitchcock was 56th.
The Dickinson school district was ranked 32nd, High Island was 40th, Texas City came in at 47th and Galveston was 49th.
Barbers Hill school district in Chambers County was the top school district, while North Forest was the lowest-ranked.
Clear Creek was the top large school district — those with 30,000 students or more, according to the group’s rankings.
The data for the rankings comes from the Texas Education Agency, said Caroline Neary, associate director of the nonprofit’s Center for Social Measurement & Evaluation.
The organization looks at three main areas, she said. The first is student achievement, which is an index of the raw scores from the state-mandated STAAR test. The second factor is a campus performance index, which uses test scores and takes into account student demographic data.
“We know that schools that have large numbers of economically disadvantaged students have more of a challenge,” Neary said. “So, this index in a way adjusts for that.”
The group also looks at how test scores change, she said.
The organization ranks school districts, high schools, middle schools and elementary schools across the state. The group released the Houston area and North Texas area rankings and will release statewide rankings in a couple of weeks, Neary said.
She said the rankings were meant to be a guide to school performance for parents as well as a separate evaluation that districts could use to look at themselves and their peers.
“Also, we do it to just generate conversations about school performance and encourage the use of data in evaluating schools,” Neary said.
The rankings by Children at Risk are just one of several measures that demonstrated the district’s commitment to improve, said Clear Creek Superintendent Greg Smith.
“We are humbled by the listing as the top large school district in the Houston area,” he said.
Friendswood Superintendent Trish Hanks said there was no single attribute or program that led to the school district’s top performance year after year. Instead, it is a combination of things, including families that value education, school leadership, investment from the community and good teachers, she said.
“There are a lot of different ways to rank and rate school districts, and we always look at each one and see if there are things that we could improve in (and) things that we are doing well,” she said.
At a glance
Children at Risk’s school district rankings for Galveston County:
No. 3 — Friendswood ISD
No. 4 — Clear Creek ISD
No. 32 — Dickinson ISD
No. 40 — High Island ISD
No. 47 — Texas City ISD
No. 49 — Galveston ISD
No. 54 — Santa Fe ISD
No. 55 — La Marque ISD
No. 56 — Hitchcock ISD
SOURCE: Children at Risk