Galveston County school districts largely performed well on the first full slate of education accountability ratings since Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017. Two districts earned A ratings on the system’s scale of A to F, and several others made strides from the first year under the new system.
One year ago, all but two county school districts didn’t receive overall ratings under the new system because of a provision that exempted districts in Harvey’s path from the assessment unless they earned an A rating.
One of those districts to earn an A, Clear Creek, would have earned the same rating again this year if not for a provision limiting districts with a campus that earns a D or F rating.
Although Clear Creek earned an overall 91 percent when calculating the three main domains of student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps, the district received only a B rating because of a provision added in July.
The new state rule stipulates a district can’t earn an overall rating better than a B if any one of its campuses earns an overall rating lower than a C, district officials said.
Clear View High School earned an overall D rating, records show. The school, which has about 200 students, is an alternative school meant for students at-risk of failing to graduate, officials said.
While state education administrators recently issued a ruling meant to clarify the rule, the stipulation about campus low ratings preventing districts from earning As has been in the education code for several years, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Clear Creek had been one of two districts to earn overall A ratings in 2018 because of the Harvey provision.
Galveston, Dickinson and Clear Creek all received overall B ratings, which district leaders called positive.
“Progress is being made and results reflect a focus by board, staff, parents and community to establish GISD as a premier school district,” Galveston Superintendent Kelli Moulton said.
In 2018, Galveston received three C ratings, but that has improved to just one C, in academic growth, in 2019, records show. The district also received an A rating in relative performance.
And Dickinson also showed improvement across the board from 2018, when it would have received a C rating, Superintendent Carla Voelkel said.
“We are moving forward in Dickinson ISD, and we are committed to providing our students with high-quality curriculum and instruction that is aligned to state standards,” she said. “We are also carefully and continuously monitoring student progress to ensure growth.”
This year, Hitchcock Independent School District earned the county’s lowest overall rating with a D, a result that new Superintendent Travis Edwards said was not acceptable.
“The ratings that arrived are as we expected,” he said. “We are not pleased with our ratings at all and have been putting a plan together to address academic improvement on all of our campuses.”
Hitchcock received D ratings in each of the assessment’s categories except for academic growth and closing the achievement gaps, where the district earned F ratings. While the district didn’t earn an overall rating after Harvey, it did largely receive D ratings during its previous accountability results in 2018.
The board of trustees formally accepted former Superintendent Carla Vickroy’s retirement notice in May when it also hired Edwards, formerly superintendent of the Bartlett Independent School District in Central Texas.
Before arriving in Bartlett in 2016, Edwards worked as a field service agent at the Region 14 Education Service Center in Abilene, where he helped administrators at low-performing campuses improve schools to meet state standards, according to the Bartlett district’s website.
District administrators have already hosted an intense professional development program from Aug. 5 through Wednesday, and leaders believe parents will see dramatically different ratings next year, Edwards said.
Santa Fe, meanwhile, earned an overall C rating but did make several improvements since receiving a D rating in several categories in 2018.
The result is a 15-point improvement from the previous year, district officials said.
“These results show that our focus on strong curriculum, professional learning and instructional support is creating positive change for our students,” Superintendent Leigh Wall said. “As a district, we will continue to improve our system, processes and provide necessary resources to foster the best possible education and learning environment for all students.”
Texas City also earned an overall C rating, though district leaders emphasized some areas they have improved.
“Overall, we are showing growth across the district,” Deputy Superintendent Susan Myers said. “It may not be as fast as the state thinks we can make improvements, but we are continuing to improve.”
Guajardo Elementary received an A rating and Blocker Middle School earned a B rating, Myers said. The Texas City district just missed receiving a B rating.
Friendswood and High Island, a single-campus district, earned the county’s two overall A ratings this time, records show.
“We are glad to see the performance of our students has earned the District an A rating as well as A ratings for all campuses as well as number of distinctions,” Friendswood Superintendent Thad Roher said. “There are many measures of student success that the STAAR does not measure, so we continue to celebrate growth, social-emotional learning and other performance measures. Summarizing the effectiveness of a district or a campus with a single letter grade does not give the whole picture.”
The new A-F system is meant to replace the previous system of giving schools ratings of either “met standard” or “improvement required.”
Statewide, 257 public school districts earned A ratings, 622 received B ratings, 114 received C ratings, 21 earned D ratings, six received F ratings and two districts weren’t rated, officials said.