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Iowa Park ISD topped the rest of Wichita County school districts Wednesday with the release of the Texas Education Agency’s new A-F grading system

by Kevin Hamilton
Iowa Park ISD topped the rest of Wichita County school districts Wednesday with the release of the Texas Education Agency’s new A-F grading system.
Last Wednesday, the TEA turned in ratings of A, B, C, D or F on whether campuses earned a rating of ‘met standard’ or improvement required based on performance in the 2017-18 school year.
Individual campuses within a school district will not receive a letter grade until 2019.
Under the new A-F system, districts are being measured in three categories – student achievement (STAAR testing), school progress and closing the gap.
Iowa Park CISD scored an 88 out of 100, or a B. Iowa Park scored an 88 in student achievement and closing the gaps, and 87 in school progress.
Electra ISD was closest, scoring a ‘B’ with an 87 score.
The other three Wichita County school districts rated a ‘C’, including Burkburnett (76), City View (79), and Wichita Falls (76).
Elsewhere in Iowa Park’s competitive districts, Vernon ISD rated a ‘D’ (69), Graham ‘C’ (77), Bridgeport ‘C’ (79), Krum ‘B’ (80), and Aubrey ‘B’ (86).
Jodi Schlaud, Curriculum and Instructional Technology Coordinator for Iowa Park CISD said on Tuesday she recently spent seven hours at the Region 9 center utlilizing a workbook learning to calculate IPCISD’s score.
“The good thing is a lot of it is about growth, and about our kids growing,” she said. “I like that part of it. But it is just hard to throw a rating on things because it is not just about growth and STAAR scores. There are so many other factors that play into it. No accountability system should be this complicated. It doesn’t make sense to be able to celebrate your kids’ success on a STAAR score, and still wonder if that is good enough. It is tough.”
Asked what she attributes the consistently higher scores by Iowa Park CISD compared to area schools, Schlaud responded “Our success comes through allowing our teachers to teach, and teach the way they teach best. That the teachers work hard for their kids and they do what is best for their kids.”
Schlaud said she is asked often by other Region 9 members how Iowa Park is successful. “I say we let our teachers teach. We don’t mandate district-wide a whole lot of initiatives, where every teacher has to teach this way or that way.
“We give them the resources they (the teachers) need, within our means, and we have a school board that is very generous and tries to be as cutting-edge as they can for a district our size. They are suppportive of us getting more resources for our kids and our teachers. The teachers love our kids, and they work day and night to make sure those kids are successful, every one of them.”
Under the A-F system’s three categories of student achievement, school progress and closing the gap:
• The ‘student achievement’ category measures how well students performed on the STAAR and how well high school students also performed on college and career readiness measures and their graduation rates.
• The ‘school progress’ category is broken down into two subcategories that measure how many students improved on the STAAR compared with the previous year as well as how well campuses and districts performed compared to other campuses and districts with similar percentages of low-income students. Only the subcategory with the higher score will count toward the overall school progress score.
• The ‘closing the gap’ category measures how well students performed based on their race, income level, disability and other factors that might affect learning.
Only the higher grade between the ‘school progress’ and ‘student achievement’ categories are currently counted, and that score counts for 70 percent of the overall campus or district grade. The ‘closing the gap’ score counts towards 30 percent of the overall grade.
Iowa Park CISD received a very favorable STAAR report during the trustee’s meeting last Thursday.
Jodi Schlaud told school board members that the 2017-18 STAAR testing results for Iowa Park indicated that students at Bradford Elementary, W.F. George Middle School, and Iowa Park High School scored higher in the bulk of tests (reading, math, writing and science) than those at the state level, and those of other Region 9 schools.
Asked if IPCISD in general agrees with the state-mandated testing system, Schlaud answered “It is tough, because our kids excel in it. But it is hard to see a third-grader put under so much pressure ... a fifth grader to have to pass it to become a sixth grader. I think we would all agree there are different ways to test the knowledge of our kids without putting so much pressure on them at such a young age.”
Schlaud continued, “It is hard when there is an assumption that all kids are the same, so should be tested the same. Because we know as teachers and educators that all kids learn differently, and are at different levels. So to test them all at the same level is hard because they are not at the same level, and learn differently.
“Our students do well ... they adjust well. Kids are resilient. Our teachers take care of our kids, and if they aren’t successful, they do what they can to make them successful the next time.”
STAAR testing is accomplished in the form of three official definitions by the TEA – approaches grade level, meets grade level, and masters grade level.
Their definitions are as follows:
Approaches Grade Level – met the minimum standard scalescore. Students at this level have met the assessment requirements for purposes of Student Success Initiative (SSI) grade promotion and graduation and are considered to have met at least the minimum passing standard. A student achieving Approaches Grade Level is likely to succeed in the next grade or course with targeted academic intervention.
Meets Grade Level – met postsecondary readiness standard scalescore. Students at this performance level have a high likelihood of success in the next grade or course but may still need some short-term, targeted academic intervention.
Masters Grade Level – reaching an advanced academic level on that particular assessment. Students at Masters Grade Level are expected to succeed in the next grade or course with little or no academic intervention.
In “Approaches Grade Level” Bradford Elementary scored higher than both the state and Region 9 levels in all categories. An example would be 5th grade reading (Bradford 98, Region 9 80, state 91).
Under “Meets Grade Level” Bradford again scored higher than Region 9 or the state. An example would be 5th grade math (80 local, 53 Region 9, 57 state).
And Bradford scored higher in the “Masters Grade Level” (such as 3rd grade reading with 28 local, 20 Region 9, and 24 state).
Iowa Park’s junior high, while the scores were closer overall, outscored both the state and Region 9 in all three categories.
In “Approaches Grade Level” Iowa Park topped all categories (example being 8th grade social studies with Iowa Park 72, Region 9 59, and state 64).
In “Meets Grade Level” Iowa Park was tops again (example being 6th grade math with Iowa Park 44, Region 9 36, state 43).
“Masters Grade Level” was much closer, with Iowa Park higher in only four of nine categories (example, 8th grade science was 19 locally, with 20 state, and 16 Region 9).
Iowa Park High School was tops in all but one category in “Approaches Grade Level,” edged in Algebra 1 85 to 86 by Region 9, but above the state’s 83 score. Iowa Park’s English 1 score of 66 bested Region 9’s 62, and 60 for the state.
IPHS scored better in all categories but one in “Meets Grade Level,” with Biology 74 to Region 9’s 56, and the state’s 60. The state’s 72 in US History edged Iowa Park’s 70.
IPHS was higher in only two of five “Masters Grade Level” in comparison, but all were close (example is English 1 with IPHS 6, Region 9 6, and state 7).