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Most DeWitt County schools met TEA accountability standards

By Jessica Rodrigo
Aug. 8, 2014 at 5:45 p.m.
Updated Aug. 8, 2014 at 10:51 p.m.


Most of the DeWitt County school districts met accountability standards set by the Texas Education Agency.

YORKTOWN

Yorktown received another distinction by the TEA accountability ratings this year.

Sylvia Hernandez, director of curriculum and student services of Yorktown school district, is proud of the hard work the teachers, students, parents and administrators put into the 2013-14 school year.

Last year, Yorktown Junior High received a distinction for top 25 percent student progress. This year, the school received a distinction in reading/English language arts, and Yorktown High School received a designation in social studies.

"We will continue to work diligently to keep earning distinctions from the state," Hernandez said.

At the high school level, she said the experience and dedication from teachers shows when the students excel at the different subjects.

Teachers had high but attainable expectations of their students as well as worked with them to make sure they understand what they are learning.

"The teacher makes the difference," she said. "They're very familiar with what the state expects from the testing."

The district uses the Istation Reading program, offered by TEA to help supplement the reading programs the teachers already have set in place to help the students reach the goals set by the state, she said.

Teachers provided tutorials and benchmark testing to keep up with student growth, she said.

"We monitored our students to assess their needs and held them to higher standards," Hernandez said.

During the summer, a handful of the teachers spent time training to improve their teaching and keep the scores up. The teachers then have a chance to apply those new skills in the classroom.

"It takes a team effort. Our teachers do a lot of communicating with parents," she said.

If a student isn't doing well, the teachers and the parents are there to support that student and help them along the way, she said.

NORDHEIM

Nordheim school district's Texas Education Agency accountability ratings dropped from met standard to improvement required for the 2013-14 school year.

Kevin Wilson, Nordheim superintendent, said he was not happy with the scores that came from the changes in the STAAR testing.

"I'm not pleased with our scores," he said. "The scores are not necessarily realistic with what you have going on at the school. The smaller schools will suffer if there is one student who does not do well."

The testing has historically been used as the rating standard for schools, Wilson said, and this new standard is causing the other programs to take the back seat to things that are doing well at school.

"There's no doubt we need to improve our scores," Wilson said.

On the contrary, he said he believes there are a lot of good things going on at the school.

The school's band program and livestock show for the Future Farmers of America and the junior division of FFA have been well received in the community.

YOAKUM

The Yoakum school district will continue to improve in all areas of the TEA accountability standards and STAAR testing, said Tom Kelley, superintendent for Yoakum school district.

"We are very pleased with the district and individual campus ratings this year," he said.

Last year, Yoakum Junior High failed to meet the standards and received an improvement required rating. This year, it received a distinction in science.

The effort from all the teachers, administrators and staff involved with the benchmarking, data collecting and analyzing scores made the 2013-14 school year a success, he said.

"We benchmarked every six weeks. That is something we focused on this year," Kelley said.

Chad Rothbauer, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, has taken a strong leadership role in that, Kelley said.

"He's put in a lot of time communicating the data to the people who work with the students," Kelley said.

The team effort begins when the scores come back to the school district, he said. Before the year commences, the data is used to show where improvements can be made.

"We let them know the weaknesses so they can teach to those weaknesses. It's a yearlong process," Kelley said. "The bottom line is the teachers do a great job of implementing the plan with the kids," he said.

The Yoakum school district received four distinctions: math at the high school level, science and closing performance gaps at the intermediate level and science in the junior high level.

"It cannot go unnoticed that each of our campuses received distinctions," Kelley said. "That is a reflection of all of the hard work of the teachers and entire instructional team."

CUERO

Jim Haley, superintendent of Cuero schools, said he was pleased the district met the TEA accountability indexes but was disappointed it did not receive any recognition.

"It's a convoluted and confusing process. It is hard to use the results to better ourselves because it changes constantly," he said.

Even with the distinctions, he said there is no way of knowing what other schools are used in the comparisons.

In the upcoming year, he said one of the goals for the district is to bring the new teachers and students up to speed with the curriculum and the testing subjects.

"If we can provide them with help early in the year, they can do better," Haley said.

Passing the STAAR and end-of-course tests the first time it is taken is one of several goals for the district, he said. Looking at the scores and breaking down the data from those scores will help teachers close the gaps between the subjects, he said.

"We are going to focus on reading this year because it's a fundamental skill that can improve all the other scores," he said. "We're going to reward it more and practice it, too."

The district has teachers who do an outstanding job, Haley said.

"The teachers are very consistent with the implementation of the curriculum," he said.

MEYERSVILLE

The Meyersville school district met all performance indexes of the TEA accountability ratings.

Repeated attempts to reach Michael Lanier, interim superintendent for the Meyersville, were not returned.

WESTHOFF

The Westhoff school district met all performance indexes of the TEA accountability ratings.

It also received distinction designations in reading/ELA, mathematics, postsecondary readiness and top 25 percent in student progress and closing performance gaps.

Repeated attempts to reach David Kennedy, Westhoff superintendent, were not returned.

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