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Lavaca County schools meet standards, scores consistent

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


Lavaca County educators are pleased with their accountability ratings, which did not vary much from last year, but they are not sitting on their laurels.

Here's what they had to say about what they will focus on this school year:

HALLETTSVILLE

Hallettsville school district will prioritize writing this coming school year, Superintendent Jo Ann Bludau said.

The district met standards in 2014. Its scores in performance indexes, such as student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness, varied by only a few points.

Bludau highlighted the boost in student achievement on the junior high level.

Teachers attended professional development sessions over the summer to prepare for the upcoming school year, she said.

"I definitely want to congratulate the teachers, the administrators and all of the instructional support staff," Bludau said. "We also appreciate the community support and the board support, who give us the resources we need to make students successful."

MOULTON

Moulton school district Superintendent Jennifer Hranitzky feels lucky to work at a district that not only met standards but also earned four distinctions at the elementary level and five distinctions at the high school level.

"Next year, we'll be focusing on math because we didn't get distinctions in math, and we want them," she said.

In fifth-grade science, especially, teachers broke down the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and adjusted their curriculum. Otherwise, they focused on what worked last year, Hranitzky said.

"I think they did an outstanding job. I couldn't be more proud," she said of their work.

The district's budget will be adopted Aug. 20, and the teachers are hoping for a raise, she said.

Moulton Elementary has 191 students. About 59 percent are economically disadvantaged.

Moulton High School, meanwhile, serves 127 students, about 47 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged.

Both campuses earned distinctions in reading, science, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness, according to data from TEA.

SHINER

All of Shiner school district's campuses met standards this year.

On the elementary level, they earned three distinctions. On the high school level, they earned five distinctions.

A Shiner district official was unavailable for comment Friday.

SWEET HOME

Sweet Home school district met standards and is focusing on how, in the coming years, the TEA will raise the bar even higher.

To be ahead of the curve, the district is fine-tuning its curriculum to address concepts and skills students struggle with, such as geometry and spacial relationships, Superintendent Randy Meyer said.

"Our teachers have also been going to a lot of professional development to target those concepts and skills. They want to teach differently to reach more students," he said.

Although last year, the 145-student district earned a distinction in math, it did not earn a distinction this year.

Meyer said they'll shoot for more distinctions next year and reminded parents that because of the district's size, each student's score on the STAAR test carries more weight.

He said the district seeks to create well-rounded citizens.

"From our school board down, we recognize here at Sweet Home that just because a student passes a test doesn't mean we're satisfied because some students might have barely passed the test," Meyer said.

VYSEHRAD

While Vysehrad school district Superintendent Jason Appelt is happy the small district met standards, he wants to offer tutoring earlier this year.

Tutoring normally started before Christmas, but now, it may start three or six weeks into the school year, he said.

Appelt thought the district did well this year partly because of its size.

"One of our distinctions was closing the gap between economically disadvantaged," he said. "We give lots of attention. We're able to give lots of one-on-ones."

Also this past year, teachers of eighth-grade social studies used two textbooks. One textbook only covered the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, he said.

Appelt congratulated students and teachers for a job well done.

"I think they did great," he said, acknowledging a lot of their success was foreshadowed in the STAAR test results released earlier this year.

"It's a measure of one test. Of course, obviously, the test does measure what you do throughout the course of the year, but in my opinion, it's not the be-all, end-all of student performance and what they get out of school," Appelt said.

EZZELL

Kari DeForest, testing coordinator, doesn't remember a time when her 66-student school district did not exceed expectations.

Ezzell ISD met standards again this year.

"I think it's just working hard, you know?" DeForest said. "The small class sizes also allow us to pinpoint areas where the students are having issues, and we can focus on those issues."

This coming school year, teachers will try to improve their students' STAAR scores in writing, science and social studies.

The district recently adopted new math and science textbooks, which focus on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.

The new math textbooks will be used in kindergarten and first grade as well as in sixth through eighth grades.

Second through fifth grades will continue using the Sharon Wells Mathematics Curriculum.

Wells was a Texas teacher.

"We've had good luck, so we're sticking with it," DeForest said of the curriculum.

Ezzell also earned distinctions in reading, math, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

"The teachers worked hard, the students worked hard, and we really appreciate it," DeForest said.

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