The McKinney Independent School District maintained its Recognized rating from the Texas Education Agency for the second straight year. Students faced a more rigorous test this year, and the accountability ratings were based upon new and more stringent criteria. Consistent with school districts across the state, the district saw a number of campus ratings drop due to the inclusion of new standards and the discontinuation of the Texas Projection Measure (TPM) and the Texas Growth Index (TGI), which in previous years gave district’s credit for overall improvement in student groups and focused not only on performance but also on performance gains or growth. 16 McKinney ISD campuses earned either an Exemplary or Recognized Rating. 12 campuses earned an Acceptable rating, and no campus earned an Unacceptable rating.
“We’re pleased we maintained a Recognized rating as a school district, despite the more rigorous standard,” said Cody Cunningham, McKinney ISD Chief Communications Officer. “McKinney ISD continues to outperform the state at every grade level and in every content area tested. We are also proud of the three-year acceleration in our completion rates for all students, with this year’s rate of 97.3% the highest ever under the current definition. That said, we recognize there are areas in which we can improve and we have spent the past six months to a year making organizational and curriculum changes that we feel will yield improvements in student performance across the board.”
The accountability ratings were based upon the performance of more students than in previous years, and increased the performance expectations of a number of sub-groups not previously included in the ratings. For the first time, commended performance for all students and economically disadvantaged students in math and English Language Arts (ELA) were factored into the recognized and exemplary ratings along with English Language Learner (ELL) progress. The ratings are based upon five indicators: percentage of students passing TAKS, performance and progress of ELL students, percentage of students scoring at commended performance levels on TAKS, completion rate for the 2010 graduation class, and annual drop out rate for grades 7-8 during the 2009-2010 school year.
“The exclusion of criteria that rewarded district’s for academic growth, and not just performance, will certainly impact the number of Exemplary and Recognized schools across the state,” said Cunningham. “However, it would be naïve to judge the quality of a campus on a single rating, when an extremely small number of students or sub-population can impact the overall rating, which is not necessarily indicative of the performance of the vast majority of the students in that school. They are important performance measures, but we also consider a broad range of other academic performance measures when determining the overall progress of our students and campuses. We know where we are doing exceptionally well, and we also know where we can improve long before the ratings are released, so initiatives are in place to address these areas of concern and they will continue to be a priority.”
In particular, McKinney ISD Curriculum and Instruction and campus staff are preparing for the transition from the TAKS testing system to the state’s new assessment, the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness or STAAR examinations. The current TAKS system has been in place for the past eight years, and the 2010-2011 school year marks the last full year of TAKS testing. Due to the implementation of the new STAAR testing system, no new district or campus ratings will be assigned for the 2011-2012 school year. Students currently in the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades will continue to take the TAKS to meet graduation requirements. Subsequent classes must pass STAAR end-of-course exams to fulfill graduation requirements. In addition, college readiness standards will be incorporated into the system in 2014.