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

Contact reporter Christopher smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com.

(9) comments

Carlos Ponce

Friendswood and Clear Creek can thank two people: Lyndon Baines Johnson and Mitsutaro Kobayashi. Senator Johnson wanted NASA in Texas. The United States government owned land in Galveston County at Camp Wallace and at Naval Air Station Hitchcock. The land and infra-structure was already in place and the bases were ready to be de-commissioned. Instead they bought land from rice farmer Kobayashi to develop NASA as a political payback. Notice the two districts closest to NASA, Friendswood and Clear Creek are rated number one and number two while the three county districts next to Camp Wallace and the Naval Air Station, Santa Fe, La Marque, and Hitchcock are at the bottom of the list. Having parents that are aerospace engineers and aerospace technical support facilities on your tax base will contribute to a "good school". Do we see a Kobayashi High School or a LBJ School in either district? We do see a street in Webster named after Mr. Kobayashi.

Kevin Lang

JSC acquired the land from Rice University. My understanding is that the grant from Rice specified the land use density and that when the space center no longer needed the land, the land and improvements would be deeded back to Rice. Perhaps Rice University bought the land from Kobayashi?

Carlos Ponce

Some of the land was obtained from Rice University which had obtained it from Humble Oil and Refining in trade for other land. Remember we're talking about quite a bit of acreage here. Other Japanese farmers in addition to Mitsutaro Kobayashi were Seito Saibara who came to Texas at the invitation of the Houston Chamber of Commerce to advise farmers on the cultivation of the rice in 1903. He settled here and sent for his wife, son, parents, and thirty friends who arrived in 1904 and Yonekichi Kagawa who acquired land in Webster and grew rice also. Later, he began truck farming.
Their land if not a part of the Johnson Space Center is used by one of the peripheral technical support facilities for the center.

Kevin Lang

I don't doubt that, with the amount of land used by NASA JSC, there's all kinds of different land transactions that have come together over the years. I would presume that the Federal transactions would all be in the public record. However, I doubt that most of those 50-year-old documents are online.

Legends being what they are....the legend that I heard was that Humble gave it to Rice for a future campus location. Rice, not having an immediate need for it, gave it to NASA to build the center, but with the provision that Rice gets it back when NASA doesn't want it. I've never heard whether that constitutes 100% of the NASA property, or if there are other land transactions that have brought the site to its current state.

However, I don't doubt that the number of scientists, engineers, etc. that support NASA and the nearby petrochemical plants has contributed to the current state of academic performance in the region. That, and an attitude in some districts that a few good years in the sporting arenas is worth the cost of lower academic achievement. The short-sighted neglected to consider that, even for the most gifted of athletes, the sporting careers are pretty short, and the list of talented athletes that actually wind up making a bunch of money is relatively short. In other words, being big, strong, and fast does open up some possibilities, but being smart opens far many opportunities. And, smart ages much slower than big, strong, and fast. Even the best athletes have to consider 30-40 years after their playing careers end.

Carlos Ponce

I just hope that no major catastrophe occurs to this country. Think of the poor future archeologist trying to figure out how a rice growing community made the leap to the space age in just a couple of years!

JBG JBG

Mr. Ponce,
LMISD years ago, use to be arguably the best school district in TEXAS. NASA was still in the same place it is now, was it not? My question is why did LMISD excel then but now is at the bottom?
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We will have to agree to disagree on this one. I think back in the day LMISD had astute leaders and planners with vision and foresight, and NOW WE DON'T. "Mightest Whata tellet like it is!" ( East Texas twang ). I will provide no holes for slackers to crawl in over here. I've been here a long time and I KNOW what has transpired here in this community!
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Many of the same hurdles and disadvantages I had to confront, back in the sixties, have reappeared in the two thousands and are again kicking young people in the butt today! It happening because IT WAS ALLOWED TO HAPPEN, PURE AND SIMPLE!

Carlos Ponce

La Marque ISD used to have high standards who demanded excellence from their teachers and their students. Problem started when they went with single member school board voting precincts. Although well intentioned, people became confused when it came to election time and they could not vote (their candidate was not up for election), or they could not vote for their neighbor down the street (the precinct line cut their neighborhood). Some board members became entrenched and looked out after their own interests rather than those of the district. A winning ball team is good but some excellent teachers were asked to leave when athletes had trouble in their class. There are other reasons but I would rather not go into hearsay.

JBG JBG

Nowww you and I are on the same page Mr. Ponce! I thought I'd lost you for a
While there. However you are absolutely correct this time. We sat back and allowed the
Spirit of FOOTBALL to overshadow ACADEMICS here and we are living to regret it now.
Making bad grades were not the only "PERKS" athletes enjoyed here at that time, they also had their way where discipline was concerned. The rest as they say is HISTORY!

Stephen Murphy

All I know is if I got bad grades, I got my butt whipped. That kind of action today will get you a visit from Child Protective Services.

On a different note, this TAKKS or STARR or whatever you want to call it is why kids today are failing. Teachers, unlike in my day, aren't allowed to "teach" reading, writing and arithmetic. Read the book "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" (it's free on the Internet) and you'll understand.

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