Sunday , 19 November 2017
mhs_building

MHS Administrator, Students Denounce TEA Report

When a referee makes a bad call, it can adversely affect the outcome of a game. Coaches can argue all they want, but the referee generally holds firm to a decision. And if your team is on the wrong side of a blown call, then tough luck.

Analogous to this, McKinney High School was deemed “Academically Unacceptable” in 2009 following a clerical mishap. The list of “subpar schools” was released again this week and published in the Dallas Morning News and other publications, including TSB, in which MHS was one of 565 schools singled out.

To read a synopsis of the report, click here.

This is grossly unfair and inaccurate, MHS principal Stuart Harrington said.

It was the school’s responsibility to document where students moved after they withdrew from McKinney High. Somehow, a number of students moved away from the district during their four years of high school and MHS didn’t document their transfer information. In the Texas Education Agency’s evaluation of McKinney High School, multiple students appeared to have “dropped out” of school because the students were not accounted for as having moved away. Thus, those students appeared to “not graduate.” TEA decided that a high school, on the cusp of Recognized status overall, was instead rated Academically Unacceptable due in essence to it’s “drop-out” rate. All this negative press, attention, hoopla, community uproar, headache and outrage spurred by a clerical error. A clerical error! TEA refused to amend its ranking. (Sorry. Get your paperwork in order next time, MHS.)

“What happened was, in some cases, students don’t tell us they’re leaving– they just take off,” Harrington said. “The school district did not ‘chase’—that’s the term I use— the students that quit coming to school. So, those students were coded with a particular code that signifies that we don’t know where they went, which goes down as a drop out. The state has expectations for the number of drop outs– or what they call ‘completion rate.’ So basically, we were named ‘Academically Unacceptable’ because of non-academic issues. Now, some people will say whether or not people completing school is an academic issue. You could argue that, but in terms of the academic performance of students on our campus, we were close to being Recognized. In fact, in most of our test categories, we were Recognized– or even Exemplary. So that was a very disappointing result, needless to say.”

“The sad part about this whole situation, is that very few people will ask, ‘why is MHS on that list,’ and most just say, ‘Oh, it’s on the list. It must be a bad school,’” Mr. Harrington said. “I mean, there are some schools on the PEG list that are actually in trouble, there’s no doubt about it. But, the academic performance of our students and our school is being inaccurately portrayed through the headlines and through the media coverage of this particular PEG list.”

So this is how our state examines school districts and rates them for the outside world to see? Once an Academically Unacceptable rating is issued, a school must remain on the “naughty list,” the PEG list of underperforming schools, for three calendar years. Good GRIEF! Students of sanctioned schools have the right to transfer to other campuses. The academic sanctions issued by the PEG not only lessen school-zone home values, but potentially the student population as well.

“I don’t care about being Academically Unacceptable—there’s no genuine incentive for me to transfer out of MHS,” McKinney High School senior Alex Kinsinger said. “To be honest, all public schools in our district are basically the same. It’s not that big of a deal. All of my friends go [to MHS], so I want to stay here. Plus in our case, the issue is more of a coincidence.”

That being said, the “sub-par” rating of McKinney High School isn’t truly reflective of the school’s academic performance—if anything, McKinney High School is a few strokes under par.

McKinney ISD agrees with MHS. To read MISD’s reaction to the report, click here.

-Story by TSB contributor Quinn Murray, a senior at McKinney High School

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