Lavaca districts meet academic standards

Amber Aldaco By Amber Aldaco

Aug. 15, 2017 at 10:12 p.m.

To see the results for Victoria ISD and all area districts click here.

Seven school districts in Lavaca County have met academic standards, according to Texas Education Agency ratings released Tuesday.

The agency looks at four areas to determine its ratings - student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

Several Lavaca County campuses also earned distinctions for exemplary work.

Yoakum

The school district that sits on the border of two counties did meet all state standards.

Areas of strengths include the elementary levels at the intermediate campus, where the campus scored above the state average for all four indexes. Superintendent Tom Kelley said the district was "very pleased" with the math scores for the third, fourth and fifth grades. Almost 90 percent of the elementary's third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students passed the mathematics portion of the state exam.

Kelley also said that the fourth-grade writing scores have improved since last year.

The intermediate campus earned three of six possible distinctions: mathematics, top 25 percent closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

At the middle school level, the areas of seventh- and eighth-grade reading and eighth-grade math continue to show improvement, Kelley said.

However, the scores for sixth-grade math and reading, seventh-grade math, and eighth-grade social studies and sciences are areas of concern, he said.

"Plans are being created at this time to help ensure that improvement will be made during the 2017-2018 school year," Kelley said in a prepared statement.

Yoakum High School fared well with the exception of English 1 and English 2, where the passing rates declined slightly but were still consistent with state averages.

"We applaud the efforts of teachers, staff and administration and all involved in the instruction of all students. As we continue to move forward with the accountability standards, we appreciate the support from our parents, school board and community," Kelley said.

Moulton

The district of about 300 met all standards at both campuses.

"I was extremely pleased. We improve every year," said Superintendent Todd Grandjean.

The elementary campus did well in most areas, Grandjean said, and received distinctions in English language arts/reading and top 25 percent closing performance gaps. Grandjean said one of the two lower scoring areas in the district included elementary science, but said the district has great science teachers that will focus on student improvement.

"I think we're going to see a lot of improvement there," Grandjean said.

At the high school level, which includes middle and high school grades, students improved and earned all seven possible distinctions in ELA/reading, mathematics, science, social studies, top 25 percent student progress, top 25 percent closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness for the first time.

For the past two years, the school received six distinctions with the exception of math.

"This year, they finally got it," Grandjean said. "It's been a district effort."

The lowest scoring area was middle school social studies, Grandjean said. The district plans to continue to make strides and focus on the subject.

Grandjean said the success of the students has been a school and community effort.

"The community being active with the school and being supportive of the students is a huge help," Grandjean said. "Our teachers and administration work and collaborate together to provide the students with what they need."

Hallettsville

The northern Lavaca County school district has made "significant gains," said Superintendent Jo Ann Bludau.

"Our teachers are all doing a great job," Bludau said. "The assessments keep changing, but the teachers work hard and do what they can."

The strongest area across the district's three campuses is math, in which each campus received a distinction. Bludau credits the hard work of students, teachers and consultant Ann Sappington, a retired teacher.

"She has really helped us in the area of math," Bludau said.

The junior high school also earned distinctions in science and top 25 percent student progress. The lowest area at the middle school level was social studies.

In addition to math, the high school earned a distinction in top 25 percent student progress. The high school made gains in biology and algebra, Bludau, which were both in the 90 percentile.

Bludau said she is excited and pleased with the results and that the district will continue professional development for teachers to ensure student success. She said the district will continue to work with individual students for success.

"It's a huge team effort, and I am thankful to the teachers, administration, school board and community," Bludau said.

Shiner

The school district of the "Cleanest Little City in Texas" also fared well in this year's state assessment.

The elementary school earned distinctions in mathematics, science and top 25 percent student progress. In the majority of subjects, 90 percent of the students met state standards with the exceptions of science, which saw 100 percent students meeting standards and writing, where 70 percent of the students met standards.

The high school, which houses the middle school and high school levels, earned all seven possible distinctions in ELA/reading, mathematics, science, social studies, top 25 percent student progress, top 25 percent closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness.

"The students did very well, and I am pleased with the results in all areas," Superintendent Trey Lawrence said. "The hard work of the students, teachers, administrators and community has come through and it shows."

Sweet Home

Giving kids a good education is not always about passing the test, said Superintendent and Principal Shane Wagner.

Nevertheless, the district once again has received superior scores from the Texas Education Agency, he said.

"Everything we do is to help these kids grow academically," said Wagner, a Sweet Home native who has served as superintendent for the past two years. "I don't even like to talk about the test."

But Wagner said he does like to talk about his district's atmosphere, which fosters one-on-one teaching and a safe, healthy environment.

"Our saying is, 'We are a quality education with country flavor,'" he said.

With only about 150 students enrolled, class sizes at Sweet Home average about 14 to 15 students, he said.

But the Crossroads shouldn't let that figure diminish the contributions from dedicated teachers, parents and, of course, students, he said.

Ezzell

For a district where high test scores come easy, success is a relative term, said Superintendent Lisa Berckenhoff.

"We are not satisfied until we are 100 percent across the board," Berckenhoff said.

With only about 100 students in the district, class sizes are tiny and test scores are regularly high, she said.

For instance, this year Ezzell students met all required standards and even scored a 93 in student achievement - 33 points higher than the required score.

"We are resetting the bar high, and, for the most part, those kids are reaching the bar," she said.

But Berckenhoff said she still sees room for improvement. Although the district earned distinctions in four categories, it lacked one for reading.

"We are definitely going to work on that this year," she said.

Vysehrad

Although Vysehrad school district students did well in math and in writing, Superintendent Jason Appelt said he would like to see improvements in reading.

He said he plans to help students progress in that area by making it a main focus this school year.

"We did OK (in reading), which was lower than our math and writing," Appelt said. "We're going to go do some reading strategy trainings - the students that didn't pass the STAAR or were on the edge."

Appelt said he attributes the students' writing and math scores to teaching strategies, small class sizes with fewer than 14 students and teachers' dedication.

District officials sent kindergarten through third-grade students that didn't pass the STAAR tests or were close to not passing through a three-week summer learning session in June.

"We thought that we had some kids that at the end of the year would benefit from a little boost before they went into the next grade," Appelt said.

Vysehrad school district received five of seven distinctions regarding the STAAR accountability rating, and the district met standard as a whole, Appelt said.

"The teachers and the students worked hard all year, and it paid off," he said. "We're going to continue to work until we're 100 percent in every category. There is always room for improvement."

Advocate reporter Kathryn Cargo contributed to this story.


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