Austin ISD earned an overall "B," or "Recognized" accountability rating for the second year, according to the Texas Education Agency's preliminary ratings released today. Additionally, 51 schools earned 123 distinction designations.
"Our district's 'Recognized' rating shows the hard work happening in our schools each day to provide opportunities for student success," Superintendent Paul Cruz said. "The latest accountability ratings are a snapshot taken once in a school year that's otherwise filled with robust programming for students. While we recognize our strengths, we also understand that there is still work to be done in achieving success for all students across AISD."
TEA gives ratings to campuses and districts on an A-F grading scale with "A" indicating "Exemplary Performance," "B" indicating "Recognized Performance," "C" indicating "Acceptable Performance," "D" indicating "In Need of Improvement" and "F" indicating "Unacceptable Performance."
The AISD district-level rating of B is an 89, or "Recognized Performance."In addition to overall performance, Texas districts also receive letter grades in each of three domains: Student Achievement, School Progress, and Closing the Gaps.
AISD particularly commends all AISD comprehensive high schools on earning an "A" or "B," making 2019 the fifth consecutive year that all high schools met state standards.
Two AISD schools - Widen Elementary School and the Graduation Preparatory Academy at Travis - were rated "Improvement Required" in 2018, but met state standards this year with a "B" rating.
This is the first year individual schools received letter grades as part of the accountability rating system.
"While we are proud of our gains, we recognize that our students and schools are more than one numerical grade," said Michelle Cavazos, chief officer for academics and social emotional learning. "No matter where our students start with us in AISD, we are closing achievement gaps every day as we identify students' strengths and get them to the finish line of being college and career ready when they cross the stage at graduation."
Eight schools received an "Unacceptable Performance" rating. Those schools are Andrews and Barrington elementary schools and Burnet, Dobie, Martin, Mendez, Sadler Means, and Webb middle schools.
Mendez received an "Unacceptable Performance" rating. The school will continue to operate under a partnership with the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Coalition. The 2018-19 school year was the first year under the SB 1882 partnership agreement that allowed AISD to partner with the T-STEM Coalition to operate the school. The school has two years to meet state standards.
Beyond the grade
Beyond the STAAR, AISD continues to create opportunities and access for students as a game-changing urban school district:
- The AISD graduation rate has increased over several years and remains above 90 percent, currently at 92.3 percent. For the first time, the graduation rate for African-American and Hispanic students has exceeded 90 percent.
- Austin ISD is committed to college readiness with 67 percent of the 2019 graduation cohort prepared to enter higher education - a record high for the district.
- The number of schools offering free breakfast and lunch to all students nearly doubled from 43 to 82 schools for the 2019-20 school year. The program will allow families to have one less thing to worry about as students will be treated to free healthy meals twice each day.
- Robust college and career programs are expanding with Career Launch now at four campuses and Early College High School offerings at seven campuses. Career Launch prepares students for careers in technology, construction, health science and real estate while providing free college courses and business partner mentors. ECHS programs offer students an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and associate's degree for free at the same time.
- Dual language programs offered in Spanish and Vietnamese help bridge both language and culture across the district, allowing students to learn from each other and start early to build a bilingual foundation for learning.
- AISD is committed to investing in our youngest learners in Pre-K. After receiving the district's first Head Start grant, AISD will now be able to serve more than 250 more families in Pre-K3 (3-year-old students) with a strong early childhood education and wraparound services for the whole family. Those wraparound services include support for children's physical, mental and oral health, nutrition, and the needs of students who receive special education services. Additionally, parenting instruction and other family engagement activities are included.
- Student mental health is supported through School Mental Health Centers which bring resources directly to AISD families at 43 campuses in partnership with Vida Clinic.
- Social and Emotional Learning has been a key focus in AISD for nearly a decade. Building a foundation in SEL helps students and adults develop skills to recognize and manage emotions, develop positive relationships and handle challenging situations constructively.
- The Creative Learning Initiative, a community-wide partnership between the district, MINDPOP, the city of Austin and more than 100 community arts partners, ensures students benefit from the arts both in and out of school.
Looking to the Future
Moving forward, the district is committed to lifting all students that need additional support:
- Now in the fourth year of the district's literacy plan, campuses will devote even more time to practice reading as a foundation for learning across subjects.
- The district received a $1.8 million Verizon Innovative Learning Grant, which will provide Chromebooks to every eighth-grade student districtwide. Leveraging technology in the classrooms will allow teachers to tailor lessons to each student to ensure students are active and engaged in learning.
"We continuously look for opportunities to best serve our students," said Associate Superintendent of Academics and Social and Emotional Learning Lisa Goodnow. "Austin ISD's success goes beyond these measures, including developing the social and emotional wellbeing of a child."
For more information on the accountability system, please visit the TEA website.