School Districts Get Second Round of Report Cards

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA--The finding of a federal report is, some students didn't make the grade.

On Thursday, the Texas Education Agency released the adequate yearly progress (AYP) results. They're part of the Bush era, "No Child Left Behind" philosophy.  As NewsWest 9 found out, some of our local school districts didn't do as well as expected.

The federal progress reports are separate from the accountability system used by the State of Texas. That's why, even though many campuses got recognized status before, they didn't make the grade this time around.

"What you read and heard last week, is just a prelude to what you're going to hear today," ECISD Superintendent, Hector Mendez, said.

How can a school, listed as recognized by the TEA one week ago, suddenly not meet federal standards? Mendez says, it's simple. They measure different things.

According to Mendez, "In AYP, only two areas count, reading and mathematics. In the State accountability, that's reading, mathematics, writing, social studies and science. That's what the confusion is, all over the country. You have two accountability systems that are not connected at this time."

The passing standards have been raised from school year 2010-2011 to 2011-2012 and do the same again for 2012-2013.  By the time 2014 comes around, students will be expected to score almost 100% in reading and math, in order for schools to meet AYP standards.

"I think it's a good thing to continually set the bar up. Obviously, 100% in 2014 is a good goal. Given these results, can we do that in two years? It's going to be difficult," Mendez said.

ECISD and MISD aren't the only schools to get these numbers. Across the state, only 50% of districts met AYP. Since these are federal standards, federal funding lays in the balance.

"It really takes a third time of consecutive failure to actually begin to lose funding," Mendez explained.

Mendez wants to emphasize that just because they failed to meet the AYP standard this year, that doesn't mean the district is doing anything wrong.

As Mendez explains, "If you look at the fine print and read about the accountability system, it's something, that obviously needs work. We do need accountability, but somehow we need to come to a rational way of being able to report how we're doing and we're dedicated to doing that."

Individual campuses are gearing up now for the coming school years.

"This is a very complex, complicated business, particularly when you're dealing with 28,000 students and moving them forward. You add accountability to this and to get everybody on the same page, it makes it very challenging but very exciting as well," Mendez said.

MISD Superintendent, Dr. Ryder Warren said in an e-mail, "unless the laws change, every child in the United States will have to pass reading and math from the 2013/2014 school year and beyond in order for school districts and campuses to meet AYP."