Education Focus 2018: Texas Education Agency gives Katy ISD an A rating

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The Texas Education Agency announced the release of annual accountability ratings for schools across the state Aug. 15. Katy ISD received an A rating. This is the first time the TEA has used an A-F rating system, which is similar to letter grades students receive.

Only 16.3 percent of the state’s 742 districts were given an A rating, according to data provided by the TEA.

“While the current accountability system alone does not capture the full essence of students’ growth and educational experience in Katy ISD, we are pleased to have been represented with a districtwide A rating. It’s a testament to the hard work of our teachers, staff and community,” KISD spokesperson Maria DiPetta said in a statement.

KISD received an A in the overall and student achievement categories. The student achievement category is a measurement of what students are capable of at the end of the school year. Various factors, such as SAT scores, graduation rates and Career and Military Readiness test scores contribute to the student achievement category rating.

“We were incredibly excited to see [the A rating]in light of all the events we’ve seen with [Hurricane] Harvey and being out as long as we were,” said Allison Matney, executive director of research, assessment and accountability for KISD.

The district received B’s in the academic growth, relative performance and closing the gaps categories. All three were measured at an 89 percent rating, which nearly met the criteria of 90 percent to achieve an A rating.

Seventy percent of the district’s overall rating was based on the student achievement category while 30 percent was based on the closing the gaps category. Closing the gaps accounts for the performance of students among different racial and socio-economic backgrounds.

Individual schools were graded on three levels: Met Standard, Met Alternative standard or Improvement Required.

“In the 25 largest districts in Texas, Katy ISD is one of seven where 100 percent of the campuses Met Standard,” Matney said.

Three schools received Improvement Required ratings in the academic growth, relative performance or closing the gaps categories. These include McRoberts and Wolfe elementary schools and Raines High School.

The district may appeal any ratings it does not agree with, TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson said.  Appeals were due Sept. 14 and the results will be released in November or December along with updated ratings, if applicable.

Several Texas school districts affected by  Harvey in August 2017 were allowed exemptions to the state’s new rating system, according to the TEA website. These exemptions allowed them to receive a rating of Not Rated: Harvey Provision.

KISD did not receive the exemption despite being affected by Harvey because the district received an overall A rating, according to Culbertson. To qualify for the exemption, the district must have received a rating lower than an A; had 10 percent or more of its students in crisis during Harvey; had 10 percent of its teachers homeless as a result of the storm; been closed for 10 days or more due to the weather or had the entire population of individual campuses relocated to another facility as a result of the hurricane, Culbertson said.

Creech Elementary School was the only campus in Katy ISD that fully relocated as a result of Harvey. After a year of renovations totaling $7 million, students returned to the campus at the start of the new school year.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, who oversees the TEA, announced in an Aug. 14 press release the TEA had been awarded more than $174 million to help schools affected by Harvey. The funds come through the federal Temporary Emergency Impact Aid for Displaced Students program and will be used to help educate students displaced by Harvey. KISD is on the list of more than 300 Texas districts eligible to receive funding through this program.

In addition to the emergency aid funding, campuses struggling with low ratings receive additional assistance from the TEA, Culbertson said.

Campuses and districts with low ratings have to hire a coordinator for school improvement and create a leadership team to address any shortcomings. After that is completed, the TEA provides training and support to help districts improve over time.

“Then again, [after schools are rated low for the third year], you’d have the same things only you’d have to do probably a little bit more intense training and things like that,” Culbertson said.

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