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AISD Achieves Gains on The TAKS Tests

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Ninety-Three Percent of AISD Schools Rated "Academically Acceptable", "Recognized" or "Exemplary" 

[AUSTIN, TX] – Today, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released the official district and campus ratings based on the 2010-2011 Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) results. Austin Independent School District (AISD) will once again be rated as “Academically Acceptable”. On the 25 TAKS measures evaluated, the District’s performance was at the “Exemplary” level on nine, the “Recognized” level on 12, and at the “Academically Acceptable” level on four.    

Ninety-three percent —104 of 112 campuses — were rated "Academically Acceptable", "Recognized" or "Exemplary." In short, the vast majority of Austin schools meet or exceed the state performance expectations. The data show that the district-wide performance improved or remained the same across all performance indicators in all five subject areas tested. For the second year, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) has achieved a passing rate of 80 percent or better in all five subjects. In addition, for the first time, more than 30 percent of AISD students scored at the "commended" level--the highest performance level set by the State Board of Education.

"It's encouraging to know that the hard work of our principals, teachers and students has paid off," said Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. "Achieving this level of success in every subject area is particularly significant when you consider that the accountability system has been one of ever-increasing standards and changing rules while experiencing the statewide budget crisis. We are proud that these results confirm that our teachers and students have stayed focused and been able to realize these gains."

AISD student group data was also positive. Performance for all student groups, including African American, Hispanic and Economically Disadvantaged students, increased or remained the same in every subject area. Overall, the largest gains were achieved in Mathematics and Science, the two areas where performance has been the lowest, both statewide and in AISD. Hispanic student performance improved three percentage points in both Math and Science, the largest gains of any student group. African American student performance improved by two percentage points in Math and one point in Science, and Economically Disadvantaged students improved by three percentage points in Math and two points in Science. 


Significant Gains Over Eight Year Span of TAKS Testing

Since the test began in 2003, AISD students made dramatic gains across subject areas and in closing the achievement gap. For example:

  • Overall gains were seen in all subject areas: 20 percentage points in Reading and Social Studies; 27 in Writing; 30 in Mathematics; and 39 percentage points in Science.
  • African American students narrowed the achievement gap by an average of 21 percentage points across all subject areas.
  • Hispanic Students narrowed the achievement gap by an average of 20 percentage points
  • Special Education students closed the gap with the "All Students" group by an average of 14 percentage points and,
  • English Language Learners narrowed the gap with the "All Students" group by 20 percentage points.


Fifteen Campuses Likely to Move up in State Ratings

Overall, 23 Austin schools are rated "Exemplary," 33 are rated "Recognized," 48 are rated "Acceptable," and eight are rated "Academically Unacceptable." All Austin elementary schools were rated "Academically Acceptable" or higher. Overall, 15 campuses will move up to higher levels on the ratings scale.

Eight secondary schools out of 33 were rated "Academically Unacceptable"—Eastside Memorial Global Tech, LBJ high school, and Garcia, Burnet, Bedichek, Lamar, Mendez and Pearce middle schools. The district is carefully reviewing the data and will appeal several of the preliminary campus ratings. The district believes it can make strong cases for appeals for certain campuses because not only did students make gains on those campuses, but also because the students were so close to making the mark.  


Changes to State Rules Negatively Impact Overall Campus Ratings

TEA made significant changes to the state accountability criteria in 2011 and its effects impacted some AISD campus ratings. Overall, the large majority of AISD campuses will be rated as "Academically Acceptable," "Recognized," or "Exemplary". While last year AISD had only one "Academically Unacceptable" campus, in 2011, under more stringent rules, eight AISD campuses are classified as "Academically Unacceptable", based on the preliminary data.

The most significant TEA rule changes are summarized below:

  • Higher standards for achieving academically acceptable status in Mathematics and Science (i.e., five percentage points higher); · Similarly, higher "floor" or minimum score requirements, used to determine if "exceptions" can be used, increased by the same amount (i.e., five percentage points);
  • Inclusion, for the first time, of the scores of students with disabilities who took TAKS-Modified or TAKS-Alternate;
  • Two additional requirements for achieving ratings of "Recognized" or "Exemplary": Commended Performance Indicator and the English Language Learners Progress Measure; and
  • Elimination of the Texas Performance Measure (TPM), also referred to as the state growth measurement.

"Despite these rule changes, our students made significant gains in Math, Reading, Writing and Science," said Chief Performance Officer Bill Caritj. "However, these changes did affect us. We certainly embrace high standards for all of our students, but in this instance the rules changed midstream. Thus, all eight 'Academically Unacceptable' campuses would have been 'Academically Acceptable' if the state growth measurement (Texas Projection Measure) had not been eliminated." 


District to Focus on Academic Rigor For All and College-Readiness Culture to Eliminate Achievement Gaps 

The district continues to look for opportunities to strengthen its core academic work, including making a college-ready curriculum focused across all grades and revamping the assessment system so that teachers can monitor student performance in real-time. AISD also has redesigned the bilingual program around one-way and two-way dual language immersion so students will develop high language and academic proficiency.

We are reviewing the commended levels on the state assessment and will provide assistance to students at all levels to ensure those students are receiving more rigorous instruction. Principals and counselors are also meeting with students individually and in groups to discuss college experiences to ensure that students are focused on continuing their education after high school.

At the campus level, new programs are being implemented to bolster student performance. These include the Early College high schools at Reagan and LBJ high schools. The Eastside and Travis Vertical Teams will focus on the following five tenets: human capital; maximizing instructional time; high dosage tutoring; high expectations and a no excuses culture; and data-driven instruction. Also, the district continues to stress the importance of student attendance.

"We are not where we need to be and certainly not where we want to be with all student groups in all subject areas. We will not be satisfied until exceptional teaching and learning is the norm in every classroom in every school. However, our hard work as a district has paid off for us in the results we are seeing this year," said Carstarphen. "We will build on these gains as we go forward so that we can achieve our goal of every student graduating high school ready for college, career, and life in a rapidly evolving, global economy."  


TAKS: By the Numbers

Percentage of Students Meeting the Standard by Subject
  2009-2010 2010-2011 Percentage Point Gain
Reading 87% 88% +1
Mathematics 82% 84% +2
Science 79% 80% +1
Writing 90% 92% +2
Social Studies 93% 93% 0


Percentage of Students Meeting the Standard by Subject and Group
Student Groups Reading Math Writing Social Studies Science
All Students 88% (+1) 84% (+2) 92% (+2) 93 (0) 80% (+1)
African American 83% (0) 73% (+2) 87% (0) 89% (+1) 68% (+1)
Hispanic 84% (+1) 80% (+3) 89% (+1) 91% (+1) 74% (+3)
White 98% (+1) 95% (0) 98% (+1) 99% (0) 96% (0)
Economically Disadvantaged 82% (0) 78% (+3) 88% (+1) 90% (+1) 71% (+2)


Summary of the campus ratings based on the preliminary data released by TEA
State Accountability Category 2011
Exemplary 23
Recognized 33
Academically Acceptable 48
Academically Unacceptable 8
Total 112