BIG SPRING, TX (KWES) - Big Spring Independent School District (BSISD) administrators enthusiastically announced the district "met standards" for the second year in a row, according to the latest ratings released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), but parents and students revealed Tuesday the classroom experience at some Big Spring public schools is still "far from perfect."
TEA data appears to support their claims. Although the district, overall, met state education standards, official ratings for individual schools show four BSISD campuses - half the district - require additional improvement.
The junior high, intermediate school, Goliad Elementary and Washington Elementary received ratings of "improved required," according to education officials, while the high school, Kentwood Elementary, Marcy Elementary and Moss Elementary "met standards."
"The intermediate campus and Big Spring Junior High each missed meeting standard by only one point, on one of the four indices," BSISD Superintendent Chris Wigington explained in an emailed statement.
Administrators have "clear evidence" the classroom strategies implemented by teachers are working, he added.
Wigington declined to discuss the topic in an on-camera interview and did not respond to emailed questions about the specific strategies or lesson plans Big Spring teachers had effectively used.
Test scores and state ratings only tell half the story, according to concerned parents.
Jisela Butanda, whose two sons attend Big Spring High, said the district's education model is "very different" from what she became accustomed to while living in Midland, where her boys were enrolled in Midland Independent School District (MISD) schools.
"The teachers were harder," she explained. "They crammed a lot more information into their minds. I know it can be hard on students, but they learned a lot more."
Butanda also felt more involved in her sons' academic progress when they attended MISD schools, she said.
"Here, [in Big Spring,] I've never gotten a call from a teacher about them getting a bad grade or not turning something in," she said. "I wouldn't even know... And the progress reports and report cards [are handed out to students at school] instead of coming in through the mail."
Her older son, rising sophomore Julio Butanda, said his freshman year teachers at Big Spring High appeared to "not care if students learned or not."
He also cited vicious bullying as a distraction from academics and said he missed the school uniform policy implemented at MISD.
However, students and parents at other Big Spring campuses reported having positive experiences with teachers and administrators.
Mia Juarez, 7, was giddy with excitement about the prospect of returning to Marcy Elementary as a second grader.
Her father, Michael Juarez, said her first grade teacher had successfully used classroom prizes to motivate students, making schoolwork "both fun and rewarding."
"The teachers she's had have all been great," he said. "They don't mind sitting down with us and actually talking about what she needs."
Rising seventh grader Savanna Zarraga also reported receiving consistent levels of individualized attention from teachers at the junior high.
"I definitely want to work hard and go to college... and my teachers are helping me get there," she said.
BSISD administrators said Tuesday they were unavailable to comment in an interview.