Dripping Springs, Wimberley ISD’s nab top marks in new rating system

Two A’s and one C are the grades three Hays County school districts received as part of the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) A-F academic accountability rating system, which was unveiled Wednesday.

While Dripping Springs and Wimberley both earned top marks, struggles in several areas led Hays CISD to join 247 other districts in the state to garner a “C” rating.

TEA’s rating system utilizes three domains to measure academic performance of districts.The system ranks school districts with a report card-like grade that goes from A to F.

One of those factors is student achievement, which measures what students know and can do by the end of the year, according to the TEA website. That includes results from various state assessments, such as the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exams.

Other factors include student progress, which measures the improvement students made on the STAAR test from the previous year, as well as closing the gaps, which looks at performance among student groups, including racial or ethic groups and socioeconomic background.

Legislators originally approved the A-F rating system in 2015, with plans to start using it by 2018. In 2017, the Texas Legislature approved House Bill (HB) 22, which tweaked the A-F plan.

According to the TEA website, individual campuses were rated on the current system, uses the Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required labels. The TEA plans to apply the A-F ranking system to individual campuses in 2019.

According to the results, Hays CISD scored below an 80 grade in student achievement and closing the gaps. Within the district, only one campus, Tom Green Elementary, received an Improvement Required label.

In a letter to parents, Eric Wright, Hays CISD superintendent, said the district has some strengths in the new rankings, but also “some work to do.”

However, Wright said the district has a “higher standard” they use that goes beyond the state’s system, which relies heavily on standardized testing. Wright said the system doesn’t take into account factors such as students who might take part in extracurricular activities, or speak multiple languages.

While the district will use its report card grade to enrich certain areas, he said the information is only one piece of data.

“The test cannot measure all of the things that make your child unique,” Wright said. “The standardized test cannot measure when you child is kind of thoughtful, trustworthy, helpful, or when they try their hardest to be their very best.”

Bruce Gearing, Dripping Springs ISD superintendent, said in an emailed response the district holds itself to a higher standard than standardized test scores can represent.

In 2016, the Dripping Springs Board of Trustees passed a resolution opposing the state’s new A-F rankings. Hays CISD’s school board also passed a resolution opposing the system that same year.

“In DSISD, we focus on learning; authentic and meaningful learning that will position each of our students to be prepared for their future, to be lifelong learners, and positive contributors to the world,” Gearing said.

Accountability ratings per the Texas Education Agency’s A-F system are listed below, and can be found here. Individual campuses received ratings of Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required, as well as a number grade relating to the A-F system. Campuses will be labeled under the A-F system starting in 2019. 

Hays CISD
Overall grade – C (77)

Student achievement – C (75)
School progress – B (80)
Closing the gaps – C (71)

Elementary schools

Blanco Vista – Met Standard (79)
Buda – Met Standard (73)
Camino Real – Met Standard (79)
Carpenter Hill – Met Standard (87)
Elm Grove – Met Standard (86)
Fuentes – Met Standard (78)
Tom Green – Improvement Required (58)
Hemphill – Met Standard (78)
Kyle – Met Standard (72)
Negley – Met Standard (93)
Pfluger – Met Standard (88)
Science Hall – Met Standard (80)
Tobias – Met Standard (79)

Middle schools

Barton – Met Standard (92)
Chapa – Met Standard (67)
Dahlstrom – Met Standard (87)
McCormick – Met Standard (66)
Simon – Met Standard (69)
Wallace – Met Standard (72)

High schools

Hays – Met Standard (83)
Lehman – Met Standard (75)
Live Oak – Met Standard (81)

Dripping Springs ISD
Overall grade – A (92)

Student achievement – A (93)
School progress – B (84)
Closing the gaps – A (91)

Elementary schools

Dripping Springs – Met Standard (90)
Rooster Springs – Met Standard (87)
Sycamore Springs – Met Standard (87)
Walnut Springs – Met Standard (84)

Middle schools

Dripping Springs – Met Standard (90)
Sycamore Springs – Met Standard (92)

High school

Dripping Springs – Met Standard (91)

Wimberley ISD
Overall – A (91)

Student Achievement – A (91)

School progress – B (84)

Closing the gaps – A (91)

Elementary schools

Jacob’s Well & Scudder Primary – 80

Middle school

Danforth Junior High – Met Standard (89)

High school

Wimberley – Met Standard (87)

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