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Home News-Telegram News Three failures on science test cause SSHS to receive 'unacceptable' rating

Three failures on science test cause SSHS to receive 'unacceptable' rating

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Sulphur Springs High School received an “unacceptable” score in the latest round of accountability ratings but came within three students passing a TAKS science tests of receiving an acceptable accountability ranking.

SSHS was one of 270 campuses across the state to be ranked academically unacceptable on accountability ratings released Friday by Texas Education Agency. The top reasons given for the record number of unacceptable ratings since 2006 were low completion rates and substandard passing rates on science TAKS tests. SSHS falls into the latter category.

“We knew with preliminary information that this was probably going to happen, but we didn’t know for sure,” said Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Patsy Bolton. “Every subgroup must be at the level established by TEA [Texas Education Agency]. We had three students too many in one subgroup that did not score at that level.”

“It was so close that until the actual final report we didn’t know,” said Betty Lawson, PEIMS/assessment/accountability coordinator. “It’s unfortunate, but the high school is already working diligently and working this summer to have new teachers. We are looking carefully at curriculum. We have a new program, CSCOPE, that we’ll be implementing.”

Plans are being put in place at the state level for changes in the rating system, with testing in the future to be based on end-of-course exams rather than TAKS tests. But that change is a ways off, and until the TAKS test can be phased out, campuses and districts must continue to strive for improvements in student scores in tested and evaluated areas, Bolton noted.

Sanctions are being imposed on school and districts receiving unacceptale ratings, wth the disciplinary action increasing each year of poor performance. The sanctions range from the creation of a corrective plan to closure, TEA noted in a news release.

“I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be required to do,” Lawson said. “We’re looking at curriculum and reports. I believe we have one year or so to work on improvement. I am absolutely  positive it will be taken care of this coming year.”

The school district is already working on measures they believe will result in marked improvement in all areas of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum, from which TAKS examinations are based, according to Lawson.

Last year, SSISD had a tough time finding highly qualified science teachers to fill positions at the high school, which reflects on school scores. The district earlier this summer finally was able to fill all of those science teaching slots with highly qualified teachers, which administrators believe will “make a major difference” in students’ performance and ratings.

The TAKS tutorial is also another tool the school will be utilizing to improve student performance. “Students on the border” of pass/fail will be placed in special TAKS tutorials for extra instruction and help in those areas, Lawson noted.

CSCOPE is a  curriculum plan administered through Region VIII Education Service Center that looks at TAKS and TEKS assessments and requirements and puts into place several curriculum plans to help principals, administrators and teachers adjust at grade level and level of rigor. It can be used as a guide and incorporated into, in place of  or utilized to develop lesson plans. The program is being used successfully by districts across the state, according to Lawson.




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