Lamar Elem. receives state's top school rating

Saltillo only local district to earn 'recognized' status

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

August 19, 2008 - Saltillo ISD was the only district in Hopkins County to earn a "recognized" rating and Lamar Elementary the only school campus to earn "exemplary" marks from Texas Education Agency, based on its most recent round of accountability data.

The six other school districts located within Hopkins County -- Sulphur Springs, Cumby, North Hopkins, Miller Grove, Como-Pickton and Sulphur Bluff -- received academically acceptable ratings, as did nearby Yantis, Cooper and Winnsboro school districts.

North Hopkins and Cumby received campus ratings for high school and elementary, and were all academically acceptable. Como-Pickton's main campus, plus Holy Highway, was also academically acceptable.

Lamar Elementary in Sulphur Springs Independent School District was the only school in Hopkins County to receive an exemplary rating. Early Childhood Learning Center, which was paired with Lamar, also was considered exemplary. Only 20 campuses in the Region 8 Education Service Center, which covers Hopkins and other counties in North and East Texas, earned exemplary ratings, and 16 of those were elementary campuses.

Three other campuses in SSISD -- Travis and Bowie Elementary schools and Douglas Intermediate School -- were "recognized," the second-highest possible rating. The middle school, high school and Austin Elementary were all rated academically acceptable.

But how well did they really do? What were their strengths and weaknesses?

First, know that campus and district accountability rankings are based on percentages of students passing Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests, as well as class completion and drop out rates.

District tallies on the five testing areas -- Reading/English language arts, Writing, Social Studies, Mathematics, and Science -- are listed below, as well as how their pass percentages compare to the previous years, what the minimum pass threshold was for each campus/district and how the local results compare to regional and state percentages.

Reading/English language arts

In order to receive a passing or "acceptable rating" on reading/English language arts tests, the state requires a passing rate of 70 percent by all students testd in a district. Across Texas, 91 percent of the students tested in reading/ELA passed the test.

Of the students tested in Region 8, 93 percent passed reading/ELA tests.

Sulphur Bluff's R/ELA rating improved 3 points to 94 percent from 2007 to 2008, with 125 of the 133 students tested passing.

Three other Hopkins County school districts -- Sulphur Springs, Miller Grove and North Hopkins -- improved their R/ELA ratings by one point from 2007 to 2008. Sulphur Springs' students surpassed the regional average, with 94 percent passing the reading/ELA test, as did Miller Grove students who also had a 94 pass percentage. North Hopkins students rose one to 90 percent in 2008.

Similarly, students R/ELA ratings at three other Hopkins County school districts dropped marginally. Cumby's R/ELA pass rate dropped one point to 89 percent for 2008, while Como-Pickton's rate dipped two points to 93 percent passing. Saltillo's R/ELA pass percentage dropped one percent to 94 in R/ELA in 2008, which is still above the state and regional rates. Yantis, located in Wood County, but which serves some Hopkins County students, had a 95 percent pass rate, 1 point less than in 2007.

Writing

Across the region 94 percent, or 6,388 of the 6,783, of the students tested in writing passed. At the state level, 93 percent percent of students tested met the 65 percent minimum passing requirement on TAKS writing tests.

Locally, five districts serving Hopkins County children improved their pass rating by at least 1 percentage point, while three others declined.

Sulphur Springs students improved their pass rating 2 points for an overall pass rate of 97 percent in writing for 2008. Both Miller Grove and Como-Pickton districts had a whopping 99 percent passing writing. C-P's rating increased 7 points from 2007 to 2008 while Miller Grove's went up 8 points. North Hopkins rate rose four points to 95 in 2008, and Sulphur Bluff's pass percentage in writing increased one point to 97 percent in 2008.

Yantis had a 93 percent pass rate, dropping from 97 in 2007. Saltillo's rating dropped from 92 percent passing in 2007 to 86 percent passing in 2008, and Cumby's writing percentage dropped 1 point to 83 in 2008.

Social studies

State-wide, only 65 percent of students in each district were required to pass the TAKS social studies tests. Overall, 91 percent of Texas students passed, up from 87 percent in 2007. Schools in Regional 8 for the most part did even better than that. Ninety-three percent of students in Region 8 tested in social studies on the TAKS test passed, up from 86 percent in 2007.

Locally, seven of the eight schools serving Hopkins County students improved their social studies ratings from 2007 to 2008.

Sulphur Springs pass percentage jumped a whopping 7 points from 84 percent to 91 percent in 2008, and North Hopkins escalated nine points from 83 percent passing social studies in 2007 to 92 percent in 2008. Sulphur Bluff also jumped considerably in social studies, up six points to 96 in 2008. Cumby had the second highest increase, 8 points for a 90 percent pass rating in 2008.

Yantis students improved their pass rate by three points in 2008, up to 92 percent passing social studies. Miller Grove's social studies rating increased from 90 percent passing in 2007 to 92 in 2008.

Saltillo's social studies pass rating dropped significantly, from 94 percent passing in 2007 to 87 percent in 2008.

Mathematics

Region 8 schools continue to outpace the state pass averages in mathematics, with an overall 82 percent of Region 8 school passing math compared to 80 percent across the state. The regional average improved 2 points and the state average was up three points from 2007 to 2008. Overall, only 50 percent of the students in each campus and district were required to pass the test in order to meet minimum requirements.

Sulphur Springs improved its rating by 1 point to 81 percent in 2008 Como-Pickton also had an 81 percent pass rate in math, but their score dropped one point in math.

Yantis students didn't fare as well in 2008 as in 2007 in math. YISD's overall pass percentage dropped from 75 percent to 65 percent. Miller Grove had a 76 percent pass rating, down 4 percentage points from 2007. Saltillo's rating dropped five points but still was ahead of the other area schools at 84 percent in 2008. Sulphur Bluff had 82 percent pass the TAKS math tests in 2008, down 2 points from 2007. Cumby had an 80 percent pass rating in 2007, six points higher than in 2008. North Hopkins ratings also dipped a bit in mathematics, down 4 points for an overall 65 percent passing math.

Science

Across the region 76 percent of all students tested on TAKS science passed, up nine points from 2007. Across the state, 74 percent of the students met minimum science requirements, up 8 points from 2007. The minimum pass requirement was 45 percent passing at the campus and district levels.

All except 2 districts showed good strides of improvement in science in Hopkins County. Miller Grove students dropped 14 points in 2008 to 63 percent passing science. Yantis' rating in 2007 was 78, 4 points higher than in 2008.

SSISD's 73 percent pass rate was six points higher than in 2007, C-P CISD's rating rose 4 points to 72 in 2008, NHISD rose 7 points to 61 in 2008, Sulphur Bluff rose 9 points to 69. Cumby and Saltillo showed the largest strides of all Hopkins County Districts as far as science pass percentages go. Saltillo had the best rating by far with 83 percent of all students tested passing the science test in 2008, up 14 points from 2007. Cumby's scores rose 12 points from 57 percent passing science in 2007 to 69 percent passing in 2008.

Grades 9-12 Completion Rates/Annual Drop Out Rates Grades 7-8

Also factored into the accountability rating are high school completion and dropout rates. Across the region, fewer students completed class requirements in grade 9-12 in 2007 than in 2006, 90.9 percent in 2007 compared to 92.5 percent in 2006. That's a bit better than the state average. Across the state, 86.7 percent of the class of 2007 competed classes, compared to 88.9 percent in 2006. TEA data notes that decreases in completion rates may be due to significant changes in the dropout definition beginning with the 2005-2006 school year.

Due to small class sizes, only Sulphur Springs ISD and Como-Pickton CISD's completion data counted toward the school's accountability rating. Annual drop out rates were not counted toward accountability ratings for any of the 8 school districts serving Hopkins County students "due to small numbers or no data."

Sulphur Springs class of 2007 had a 96 percent completion rate, a 1.8 percent improvement over 2006. Como-Pickton's 2007 completion rate of 84.6 percent was 0.8 percent better.

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