Clear Creek ISD administrator reflects on 2019 TEA ratings: ‘There’s many other measures that point to the quality of our ... school district’

Days before Clear Creek ISD students returned to class for the 2019-20 school year, the Texas Education Agency released the 2018-19 accountability ratings, and CCISD learned its score had dropped three points to receive an 89, or a B.

District officials said CCISD would have received a 91 if it weren’t for a new rule that caps a district at a B grade if any of its campuses receive a D or an F rating. Clear View High School received a D this year. Before, the cap applied only to districts with an F-scoring campus, said Steven Ebell, deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“That’s a relatively new commissioner’s rule,” he said.

Overall grades are calculated based on performance in three domains: Student Achievement, School Progress and Closing the Gaps, according to the TEA. Each campus is also given an overall score based on the performance of the three domains.

CCISD received a 92, or an A, in Student Achievement, which is an increase from last year’s score of 91. The district was also able to increase its score in School Progress from an 84 to an 87, maintaining its B grade. 

Ebell said the district has focused on improving the quality of first-time instruction and using student performance data to measure growth.

“It’s about teacher professional learning and using student performance data to drive student instruction to see student growth,” he said.

Meanwhile, the district’s score in Closing the Gaps dropped from a 95, an A, to an 89, a B. Ebell said there is a difference each year in the way this data is examined and reported, leading to regular fluctuations in the score.

“The measures are all interesting, and they’re unique comparisons,” he said.

CAMPUS-LEVEL VIEW

Out of the 43 CCISD campuses that received ratings, 14 earned an A, 22 earned a B, six earned a C, and one, Clear View High School, earned a D. None earned an F.

Clear View is an alternative school for at-risk students that features small class sizes and individualized instruction, Ebell said. Superintendent Greg Smith said each Clear View student leaves the school in better shape than they entered.

For Clear View and other schools that need improvement, the district will focus on providing strong written curriculum and training for teachers and charting individual student performance data to determine better ways to teach them. These campuses will receive additional support throughout the school year, Ebell said.

Ebell said schools that scored lower tend to have more students who struggle with high-stakes testing and have a lower economic background. Still, there is not a true common denominator between them, he said.

“I would say that every school has a unique story to tell,” Ebell said.

Of the 43 schools evaluated, 27, or 62%, either showed growth or maintained their score. Ebell said the district saw great improvements at a few campuses in particular:

Whitcomb Elementary School grew from 72% to 87%. Hall Elementary School climbed from an 83% to 93%. Bayside Intermediate School went from 82% to 89%.

“That’s significant,” Ebell said.

Overall, CCISD believes schools are making good progress but that there is room for growth. Still, the district does not put too much value on TEA scores. Ebell said. The district tends to rely on its own community-based accountability report to measure progress and success.

“There’s many other measures that point to the quality of our schools and school district,” he said.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

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