Curriculum alignment and instructional support were factors Hays CISD officials cited as the primary causes for the district’s seven-point improvement in the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) A-F Accountability ratings.
While there are areas for continued progress, Hays CISD Superintendent Eric Wright said in a statement the results, which showed the district climbing from a C in 2017-18 to a B in 2018-19, is a “win for our students and staff.”
It also marked the first time since 2016 that no campuses in the district were labeled as failing or needing improvement.
“I’m pleased that the systems we’re putting in place, and the teaching methods and instructional practices we are adopting, led to student success,” Wright said in a statement. “We have momentum and energy on our side.”
As a district, Hays CISD improved by an average of seven points on student progress, student achievement and closing the gaps, all criteria measured by the TEA in its ratings.
Meanwhile, individual Hays CISD campuses earned 28 total performance distinctions from the TEA, an increase from the 12 earned in 2017-18, according to a district press release.
The 2019 results marked the first time individual campuses received a letter grade in the TEA accountability ratings. Prior to 2019, campuses were labeled as either Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required (IR).
Tom Green Elementary, which had been labeled as an IR campus with a score of 58 in 2017-18, had the highest improvement by scoring an 83. Chapa Middle School had the second highest climb going from a 67 to a 79 in a year’s time.
Wright said getting Tom Green out of IR involved implementing several new systems.
One of those called for reviewing data for each student, including State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam scores, and identifying any deficiencies that needed to be improved. District and campus officials “made sure” tutors and interventionists were on hand to help students, as well as a content specialist in the classroom to provide extra support, Wright said.
Aligning curriculum also aided in the turnaround. Wright said administrators found there were “gaps” in instruction, with issues that were “widespread in all areas.” Wright pointed to the new systems as a catalyst for the district’s overall score increase.
“Basically, that’s the beauty of the system is that it goes kid by kid and content area by content area to make sure they got what they need,” Wright said.
However, Hays CISD middle schools, especially those with a high rate of economically disadvantaged students, continue to struggle when it comes to the TEA’s rating system.
Simon and McCormick middle schools both maintained a D grade, while Wallace Middle School improved by only a point and kept at a C average. Barton and Dahlstrom middls schools each secured an A in the TEA system.
Wright said the district plans to implement similar measures taken at Tom Green to struggling middle schools. That includes providing additional instructional support for students.
“If we implement the same system, we track data and provide intervention for kids at McCormick and Simon, we can get them up to a C next year,” Wright said.
While Wright said school district officials were pleased with improvements, he also doesn’t think the system reflects what goes on in a school district. Hays CISD was one of a handful of districts that penned letters in opposition to the A-F system prior to its approval in the Texas Legislature in 2017.
Preparing students for the future relating to learning soft skills and “things that cannot be measured in a single letter grade” is what the district is also focusing on, Wright said. Wright and Tim Savoy, Hays CISD chief communications officer, cited the district’s push to get as many students in the district involved in extracurricular activities.
“A lot of times, it’s all about playing the game the state has. Even if we don’t like the game they’re playing, we’ll play the best we can,” Wright said. “(The system) is not a true mark of how strong this school district is, to be honest.”
So how did Hays CISD fare with the TEA’s A-F accountability system?
HCISD overall – B (84)
• Student Achievement – B (82)
• School Progress – B (84)
• Closing the Gap – B (83)
• Blanco Vista – B (82)
• Buda – C (79)
• Camino Real – B(84)
• Carpenter Hill – B (89)
• Elm Grove – A (94)
• Hemphill – C (74)
• Kyle – C (77)
• Negley – A (93)
• Pfluger – B (89)
• Science Hall – B (83)
• Fuentes – B (81)
• Tobias – C (75)
• Tom Green – B (83)
• Uhland – B (82)
• Chapa – C (79)
• Simon – D (64)
• McCormick – D (68)
• Dahlstrom – A (92)
• Barton – A (91)
• Wallace – C (73)
• Hays – B (87)
• Lehman – B (81)
• Live Oak – B (83)