HIGH ISLAND — The High Island school district has received a new “met standard” rating under the state’s 2013 accountability system after appealing the Texas Education Agency’s original “improvement required” mark issued in August.
Of the 19 school districts that appealed the state, High Island was one of four to receive a new rating.
The education agency issued its final 2013 accountability ratings Thursday. The agency released its original performance marks in August, but gives school districts and individual campuses a few months to make the case for a new rating.
High Island, which has a total enrollment of fewer than 200 students, originally came up just short of standard in an index measuring students’ postsecondary readiness. The district met standards in every other index.
High Island Superintendent D’Ann Vonderau said two students from the class of 2012 had not met state requirements that every student take two consecutive years of foreign language classes.
The students were freshmen in 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit. Vonderau, who was not superintendent at the time, said the school’s Spanish teacher had left the area after the teacher’s home was damaged during the hurricane. The loss of a teacher made two consecutive years of foreign language education more difficult, Vonderau said.
The two students have also gone on to enroll in trade schools and demonstrated their postsecondary readiness, she said.
Vonderau met with other administrators to appeal for a new rating.
“Don’t stamp us with the scarlet letter when we met every area but had only two students who couldn’t make the recommended plan because of circumstances out of our control,” Vonderau said.
She noted that a school district with a graduating class that ranges from 12 to 20 students every year is at a marked disadvantage statistically when it comes to the state’s accountability system.
“We’re a small school,” she said. “When you use a one-size-fits-all model, the little guys often get the short end of the stick.”
In this case, the state education agency agreed and revised High Island’s rating.
Almost 93 percent of Texas school districts met standard under the state’s new 2013 accountability system, which measures standardized test scores, graduation rates and other indexes of student achievement. Beginning in 2016-17, the TEA will assign schools an A through F letter grade.
Other county school districts’ ratings remain unchanged from August.
Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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