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55 AISD Schools Earn Academic Distinction Ratings

TEA Releases STAAR Campus Ratings Today

AUSTIN, Texas--The Austin Independent School District's students performed well under the state's new accountability system, with 110 schools meeting the standard and 55 schools earning academic distinctions, according to the Texas Education Agency's preliminary state accountability ratings released today.   

AISD leads comparable, urban school districts and exceeds the state average on student achievement and outperformed the state on student progress, according to the TEA's performance framework.

"We are proud of AISD's students who continue to perform well in a high-stakes testing environment during a period of transition to the state's new assessments. Amid increasing standards and declining resources, AISD students continue to achieve more and our teachers are doing an outstanding job," Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said.

AISD's results exceeded the state's target for the second year of STAAR in all four areas: student achievement by 28 points, student progress by 14 points, closing performance gaps by 15 points and postsecondary readiness by 6 points.

In addition, 55 AISD schools earned 89 Academic Achievement Distinction Designations, which recognize outstanding performance in student progress or academic achievement in reading/English language arts or mathematics. Eleven of the 55 schools earned distinction designations in all three areas.

Of the 110 schools that met the state's new accountability standard, 107 received a rating of Met Standard and three received a rating of Met Alternative Standard. The TEA rated 11 schools as Improvement Required: Eastside Memorial, Lanier, LBJ, and Travis high schools; Dobie, Garcia, Martin and Pearce middle schools; Rodriguez Elementary School; and Rosedale and Travis County Day schools. 

With about 24,000 students who are English Language Learners, Limited English Proficiency is an area AISD knows it needs to focus. The district is continuing to roll out dual-language programming to address the need.

AISD has made drastic changes in its approach to bilingual education to serve this fast-growing student population. During the past four years, the district has moved away from a late-exit transition model to focus on dual language immersion so students become bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-literate.

To receive a Met Standard rating, The TEA requires campuses to meet the accountability targets in each of the four areas for which they have performance data in 2013.

In many cases, the implementation of the postsecondary readiness component, which includes measures of high school completion and college readiness, holds schools accountable for decisions about graduation plans students made years earlier. If the index were based solely on the campus' graduation percentage, every AISD high school would have met the 75 percent standard.

While AISD uses testing to see where improvements are needed, it is not the only measurement the district evaluates.

"Preparing students for state assessments is a part of the great work our teachers do every day to provide a rich education to all of our students. In the end, what's important is ensuring our students graduate prepared for college, career and life," Carstarphen said. 

"In AISD, we are shifting the focus away from a culture of testing-which can be punitive and narrowly focused on test results-to one that emphasizes academic standards of excellence and the strengths and interests of the whole child with art programs, athletics, health and wellness initiatives and social emotional learning," she said.

Unfortunately, the TEA rated the district's Rosedale School, which is a specialty campus that serves students with profound cognitive disabilities and medically fragile children, as not meeting the new standards. Because of the nature of the students' disabilities, most of the children were only able to participate in Level 1 tasks, which is the reason the school received the Improvement Required rating. This rule will no longer apply in 2014. 

District and campus ratings are not official until November after the state appeals window closes and districts are notified.

For more information, visit the TEA's website at http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/account/.