Bryan, College Station, Hearne and Navasota school districts all received B ratings Monday when the Texas Education Agency released its accountability ratings.
The scores are the first the districts have received since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students did not complete the STAAR standardized testing in 2020, and school districts did not receive ratings in 2021 due to the number of students still participating in at-home learning.
Bryan received an 86, which was an 11-point increase over its 2019 rating. College Station received an 89, which is the same as the 2019 rating. Hearne received an 82, which is one point higher than 2019. Navasota earned an 86 this year after receiving a 69 in 2019.
The three-domain system that has been used since 2017 looks at student achievement, either academic growth or relative performance — using the higher of the two — and “closing the gaps.”
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Molley Perry, chief administrative officer at the College Station school district, said it is difficult to compare districts to each other because of the variability between which domain ratings are used.
She explained the system is designed to appear simple as a letter grade, but is anything but simple in its calculation.
Perry said she is proud that College Station outperformed the state in each subject and grade level, but the areas that stood out to her are student performance in reading and social studies, saying students were performing better than before the pandemic.
However, the ratings do not have a big effect on how the district operates or teaches, she said.
“We have other measures and other ways that we find to be more useful in helping to drive us forward and ensure that our students are not only achieving at high levels, but making great progress along their way with their academic skills,” she said.
“Having the ratings from TEA this year, I would say, does not change the work here in College Station ISD. We have a strategic plan that guides the direction that we are headed, and we are aiming for excellent outcomes for all of our students, regardless of any imposed state accountability system scores that we might receive.”
Bryan’s B rating of an 86 is the highest the district has received in the current accountability system, Barbara Ybarra, associate superintendent of teaching and learning at the Bryan school district, said during a Monday board meeting.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to bring that to you this evening,” she said during the meeting. “We recognize there’s still growth to be made; there’s still work to be done. But given the pandemic and the opportunity that was lost for so many to learn consistently during that time frame, we couldn’t be more pleased and more proud of the students, their parents, their teachers, the community because it is all of us coming together.”
Bryan Superintendent Ginger Carrabine called it “truly incredible” when giving the audience at Saturday’s Bryan ISD Education Foundation Hall of Honor event a sneak peek at the then-expected results. “We are so proud of our teachers and our students because this will be the highest accountability rating in the history of Bryan ISD.”
Two areas that Ybarra and Carrabine highlighted were the College, Career and Military Readiness (CCMR) rating and the graduation rate included in the overall district rating.
The CCMR rate was listed at an A at 92, while the graduation rate was listed as 91%.
Ybarra told the school board that the CCMR grade in 2018 – the first year districts received ratings on the current accountability system – was a 76 and increased to a 78 in 2019.
“Our CTE program, as you have invested as a board, is second to none, and that goes a long way to the number that you’re seeing on the screen because it matters to not just be college ready, but to also be simultaneously career ready,” she said.
She went back to 2014 to show how the district’s graduation rate has improved, showing it was at 78.8% in 2014 and has incrementally increased throughout the years before reaching this year’s 91%.
Navasota Superintendent Stu Musick shared highlights of the accountability ratings in an email, stating that all campuses had a C rating or better and that Navasota Junior High in particular saw a 26-point improvement to earn a 71.
“I can not express how proud I am to be a part of this great district and this great team of educators!” Musick wrote in the email. “Thank you for all that you do to provide the great support and direction to make it happen!!!”
All but one campus in all four school districts received a C rating or better. The only campus to not reach that C rating was Hearne Junior High School that showed a 59.
Hearne Elementary School, however, showed a 30-point gain from 2019, earning a B rating of 85 this year after receiving a 55 in 2019, which was improved from a 49 in 2018.
“I went back and looked through the archives of the accountability system, and I think we’re close to nine, 10 years since that school was out of ‘school improvement,’” Hearne Superintendent Adrain Johnson said about the growth that occurred at the elementary school campus.
He said the improvement validates the work the students, teachers and staff have done over the years and overcoming the setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the February 2021 winter storm.
“There’s a certain resiliency that you see in our kids and in our staff that’s been built over the years,” Johnson said.
The domain ratings Johnson focuses on, he said, is student growth, saying it is important to include the growth a student has over time include in an accountability system.
“We all understand in education that all students come to us at different levels, and that some of that is impacted by economic challenges their families may be having, regional challenges, language barriers, so it’s important to have a system that measures progress,” he said.
“But certainly some students come to school reading above grade level, some students come to school reading on grade level, and some students come to school reading below grade level, and the challenge for all schools and teachers and administrators is to have students show progress over the course of the year.”
He hopes to see further improvement in the academic achievement area and see more students pass the end of year assessments.
The improvement at the elementary school, he said, makes him mindful of how transformative it can be for students and families to feel a sense of pride in their school.
“It takes a lot of work on our students and our staff to show the progress we’ve shown that’s reflected in the accountability system and really encourage their children and teachers and leaders of the campuses in the district to keep up the good work, so that this progress doesn’t go away,” he said.
Perry, Ybarra and Johnson all noted that the accountability system will change next year with more short and long answer questions rather than multiple choice questions.
Surrounding Brazos Valley school districts also received A and B ratings from the state.