Ector, Midland and Big Spring ISD's Rank Low in Comptroller Report

By Abby Reed
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Can you connect the dots between school spending and student results? The State Comptroller's Office says you can and they say Ector County ISD isn't quite up to par.

The Comptroller's Office released the results of a study they've conducted, looking at school districts that have good student performance, while keeping spending to a minimum. The school districts' results are compared and then given a star rating - up to five stars.

"We group them into (fiscal) peer groups, based on their certain spending characteristics, and then we looked at their academic progress," RJ DeSilva with the State Comptroller's Office, said.

ECISD only got two stars, but school administrators say the results are a bit misleading.

"What they did though, was take financial and student performance data, over a three year period. That period ending 2008-2009. So when you look at it in the context, it's old data," Superintendent Hector Mendez said.

The data, comes from the Financial Allocation Study for Texas, or FAST. It was compiled, during a three year period when the Texas Education Agency rated ECISD as unacceptable. It suggests that - during that time frame - ECISD spent a lot of money, but had very low progress, academically. However, Superintendent Hector Mendez says things have changed since then.

"We are now acceptable, and two of the junior highs that were unacceptable are on the recommended list this year, so we're making tremendous progress during that time. So you sort of, have to take the data and put that piece into it to make sense of it," Mendez said.

The fewer the stars, the worse the rating. For example, Nimitz Junior High only had one star. Odessa High School earned one and a half stars. Permian High received two and a half stars. However, Cavazos Elementary did well, earning five stars.

"School districts can use it for any actions they may want to take or the legislature may look at it, in terms of analyzing the different districts," DeSilva said.

The ratings are only ratings, according to the State Comptroller's Office. What the district does with the findings is up to them.

"The bottom line is that to just take this information and make good decisions in terms of appropriation of dollars," Mendez said.

Now, ECISD wasn't the only local school district to do poorly. Midland ISD only got one and a half stars and Big Spring ISD only got one and a half stars.