Before It's Official, DISD Releases Preliminary List of Exemplary, Recognized Schools

We said it just last week: The Texas Education Agency won't release its 2010 Accountability Ratings till the end of July, which hasn't stopped the Dallas Independent School District from spreading the good news concerning a fifth straight year of improved TAKS scores and additional schools being added to the Exemplary and Recognized lists. The district had planned to release its preliminary list of schools Tuesday; we just got it moments ago.

That list, marked "draft," follows, naming 62 Exemplary (up from the current 46) and 69 Recognized campuses in the district. Also on the other side is a release from the district in which Superintendent Michael Hinojosa says that "while it is too early to declare victory, especially since TAKS represents the floor of academic skills and not the ceiling, the gains are worth noting, particularly in our high schools."

The district says that preliminary data shows all high schools could be ranked Academically Acceptable. And: Seven comprehensive (which is to say, non-magnet) high schools -- Adamson, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Moisés E. Molina, Skyline, Sunset and W.T. White -- may even be rated Recognized. But that's before the TEA factors in completion rates. District officials acknowledge that some schools may drop off that list due to dropout numbers.

Still, time to crank up the Alice Cooper, take a free ride over to the Top Notch and party at the Moon Tower. School's out for summer.


Comprehensive high schools post significant gains in Math and Science; more Exemplary schools than ever expected

DALLAS--Continuing a five year trend, more students than ever in the Dallas Independent School District passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in 2010.

The percentage of students passing portions of the 2010 administration of the TAKS test increased in every subject and every grade, with the exception of all subjects in 6th grade and 8th grade reading, mirroring the same results of students throughout the state. The most encouraging results indicate that Dallas' comprehensive high schools scored markedly better, particularly on the Mathematics and Science portions of the test.

"District staff and students have been working exceptionally hard to raise achievement," said Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa. "The results indicate that considerable progress is being made. While it is too early to declare victory, especially since TAKS represents the floor of academic skills and not the ceiling, the gains are worth noting, particularly in our high schools."

For the first time during the administration of the TAKS test, all district high schools scored high enough to meet the state's Acceptable threshold. More than that, based on test scores alone, eleven district high schools may be rated Exemplary and seven comprehensive high schools scored high enough to be rated Recognized, pending data from their school's completion rate. Those high schools are: W.H. Adamson, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Moisés E. Molina, Skyline, Sunset and W.T. White.

The percentage of students passing TAKS tests increased in every high school grade and every ethnic group, with the exception of Anglo 10th graders. Ten high schools posted double digit gains in mathematics while 13 high schools posted gains of more than 10 points in science, 2 of which (Kimball and A. Maceo Smith) had gains of more than 20 points.

"High school principals, teachers and staff all deserve the credit for this performance," said Hinojosa. "While school completion rates are still being tabulated to determine each school's accountability rating, it is quite significant that all district high schools that were tested met the state's academic requirements. The concerted effort made by teachers, principals and instructional coaches to emphasize academic rigor in math and science is largely responsible."

African-American and Hispanic high school students narrowed the achievement gap in all subjects, but particularly math and science. The percentage of African American and Hispanic students passing the Mathematics test increased 8.3 percent from 2009 to 2010. In science, the percentage passing increased 8.9 percent for African American students and 11.2 percent for Hispanic students.

Based upon preliminary TAKS data, the district expects to have more schools than ever rated Exemplary by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) when final accountability ratings are released in August. The current projection is that Dallas will have at least 62 schools rated Exemplary, up from 46 this current school year.

The standards for schools to be rated Recognized by TEA were raised by five percentage points in every subject and ethnic group this year. Even with that increase, the current projection is that Dallas ISD will have roughly 70 Recognized schools. The number could fluctuate based upon high school completion rate, which could cause the figure to decrease prior to the release of final ratings in August.

Earlier this spring, Dallas ISD's Research and Evaluation staff initially projected that, because the standards were being raised, the district would have roughly 103 schools rated exemplary or recognized in 2010. The current projection is 131 schools, with 62 exemplary and 69 recognized, based on initial TAKS data.

"What is most encouraging is the improvement at our high schools," said Hinojosa. "Several high schools have had difficulty in the past passing the Acceptable level on the TAKS test, causing them to be labeled Academically Unacceptable. This year, every one of those schools kicked it up a notch on the TAKS test. They may not have complete control over their completion rate but they have shown by their performance on this year's administration of the TAKS that they are making significant progress."

DISD's List of Preliminary Rankings

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