SSISD plans to appeal rating
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Aug. 16, 2005 -- Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Patsy Bolton announced Monday that school officials anticipate filing an appeal with Texas Education Agency regarding the high school’s accountability ranking.

In the accountability ratings released earlier this month by TEA, Sulphur Springs High School was found to be among the 364 schools to receive an academically unacceptable rating, the state’s lowest accountability rating.

The rating, according to TEA data, was not due to subpar scores on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests, but rather results from low State-Developed Alternative Assessment II passing rates.

The SDAA II is a Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills-aligned exam given to special education students in grades three through 10 for the first time this year.

Of the 128 SDAA II tests administered at the high school, only 54 students, or 42 percent, met ARD test standards, according to TEA data.

The test, according to TEA, is more comprehensive than the SDAA I given one year ago. This year also marks the first time the test has been administered to ninth and 10th graders.

According to Bolton, SSHS qualifies to make the appeal because it was the first year special education students were given the alternate test, and that was “the sole reason for the ranking.”

According to information from TEA, the SDAA II test results were one of the three most common reasons for schools ranked academically unacceptable. The education agency’s website explains that federal requirements forced educators to immediately set passing standards or expectations for the test without basis of comparison from the previous year.

“Previously, the first year was used as a baseline measure, and growth measure or passing standards were not set for individual students until the second year,” according to TEA’s website.

The SSISD Admission, Review and Dismissal process committee, also known as ARD committee, has already received information and begun putting in place measures to better prepare special education students to take the tests. The ARD committee determines the level of comprehension and testing approved for those students, according to Bolton.

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