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VISD meets state standard in accountability ratings

By Carolina Astrain , CAROLINA ASTRAN
Aug. 8, 2014 at 8:39 p.m.
Updated Aug. 9, 2014 at 1:41 a.m.


DATA DIVE

To learn more about the specifics and the state's new accountability ratings system, visit the Texas Education Agency's website here.

Isaiah Leary approached the center of the Victoria West High School auditorium.

"Oh my gosh, that's my son," said Edid Andrade, whose eyes welled with tears.

The 14-year-old was being honored as valedictorian of the Victoria school district's Destination Success Summer Initiative.

In the program, five Houston teachers and two Victoria teachers worked with students to improve their leadership and study skills.

The yearlong program is one of several strategies the Victoria school district has to improve student performance, said Victoria School District Superintendent Robert Jaklich.

Friday, the Texas Education Agency released state accountability ratings that showed VISD's efforts may have paid off. The agency released figures for districts and campuses statewide.

This year, for the first time under the state's new rating system, Victoria was designated as a met standard district.

Victoria scored 21 points above the target score of 16 in an area that measures the difference between the STAAR scores a student achieved in the prior and current years.

"We're excited for everybody," Jaklich said. "For all the teachers, all the students, all the staff - this is a moment we're extremely proud of."

Last year, VISD missed the mark because of a glitch in the small-number analysis of whether it was making enough strides toward closing the achievement gap.

The district appealed to the state twice, but the distinction was not changed.

However, Dionne Hughes, Victoria ISD director of assessment and accountability, said she was happy to hear the state responded by making changes to the rating system this year to prevent the error from repeating.

"It made us better," Hughes said. "It wasn't surprising to see that we came out ahead of the curve this year."

Of the 17 elementary school campuses in VISD, six were rated Improvement Required. Patti Welder Middle School and Stroman Middle School, two of VISD's four middle school campuses, were also rated Improvement Required.

Victoria West, DeLeon Elementary School, Dudley Elementary G.T. Magnet School, Torres Elementary School, Vickers Elementary School and William Wood Elementary School each earned at least one Distinction Designation.

At the graduation ceremony, Andrade said her son Isaiah is excited about starting his freshman year at Victoria West.

"I've seen him grow a lot since starting this program," Andrade said. "He used to throw up before getting on the school bus because of his anxiety. I was afraid he wasn't going to be able to finish school, but the campuses sent teachers to our house to make sure he continued learning."

And while he's seen the district administrators and teachers work together to improve learning at Victoria ISD, Isaiah said there's still room for improvement. "There are too many kids in the classrooms," Isaiah said. "They need more discipline on campuses, or at least that's how I feel."

Bloomington

While the Bloomington school district did not meet standards for the second consecutive year under the new accountability rating system, strides were made in college readiness.

However, college readiness was the sole area in which Bloomington missed the targeted score by 7 points. Last year, they missed it by 20 points.

The largest improvements made by Bloomington, compared to last year, was in the area that monitors student progress on standardized test scores from the year prior.

"We have a lot of work to accomplish this year and have implemented focused interventions to exceed the state standard in 2015," said Delores Warnell, Bloomington ISD superintendent.

Nursery

The Nursery school district, comprised of one elementary school just outside Victoria city limits on the way to Cuero, not only met state standards but also earned three special designations. Last year, they earned one.

The designations were awarded for excellence in academic achievement in reading and English, closing the achievement gap and college readiness.

The campuses' largest gains over last year were in the area measuring student progress.

Suzanne Bell, Nursery ISD superintendent, could not be reached for comment.

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