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DPISD board condemns state report

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in Schools

The Deer Park ISD Board of Trustees held its first regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. At the combined workshop and meeting, DPISD Superintendent Victor White publicly expressed his frustrations with the state’s  release of its A-F rankings earlier this month. The board also recognized several outstanding DPISD students and staff.

rodeoartstudentsSix Deer Park ISD students were recently honored by art judges from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. These students will have their artwork on display in the Hayloft Gallery at NRG Center during the entire run of the rodeo. Deer Park High School-Wolters Campus Art Teacher Ricia Kerber was conferred a fellow for the TAEA in December during the yearly convention. The Texas Art Education Association has a category of membership called Distinguished Fellows of the Texas Art Education Association. Under this program, the association may confer the title of “fellow” on members who have made long-term, distinguished contributions to the work of the association and the advancement of the profession. Photo provided by DPISD.The Deer Park ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved all items on its agenda at its regular meeting Monday night.

The meeting was a combined workshop and regular agenda session. During the workshop, DPISD Superintendent Victor White addressed the state’s preliminary release of is A-F rankings to the board publicly for the first time.

White provided the board members data received from the Texas Education Agency that were released to the public Jan. 6 of this year.

The A-F system was put in place after the 84th Texas Legislature. It assigns the familiar letter grades to districts and schools based on student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps, post-secondary readiness and community/student engagement.

TEA distributed grades for the first four metrics, also known as domains. No grades were given for the fifth domain measuring community and student engagement in the preliminary release.

Deer Park ISD received a B in the other first three domains. However, for postsecondary readiness, Deer Park ISD received an F.

TEA’s ratings combine the Deer Park High School system – North Campus, South Campus and the Wolters Accelerated High School – into one school. DPHS was the only DPISD school to receive the F grade and because the TEA ratings system only takes the high school’s score into its A-F grading system, the entire district received the F grade.

“It’s not indicative in the least if our students are ready for postsecondary challenges,” White told the board.

At the center of White frustrations is a metric reflecting post-secondary readiness. Within that metric is a point system given to students that complete what TEA calls as a “coherent sequence of Career an Technology Education courses.”

White said TEA’s guidelines are ambiguous for districts self-scoring the system. Like many other school districts, Deer Park ISD chose to self-report the metric based on a student’s enrollment of a CTE course. If a student chooses to enroll in a CTE course, they are given a score of 0. If the student enrolls one CTE course, such as Culinary Arts, I they received a 1. Students who complete a coherent sequence of CTE courses such as Culinary Arts I and then Culinary Arts II, receive a score of 2.

TEA based the post-secondary readiness scores on the 2014-15 school year graduates, giving Deer Park ISD a score of 13.3 percent.

White told the board the district submitted its CTE codes for a coherent sequence as students who completed a coherent sequence. Other school districts interpret the rules another way because the students can receive the score as long as the student has the CTE courses on their graduation plan. This data would also be correct under TEA guidelines, however, those students may never complete their required sequence.

Had the district used a different interpretation of the coding on its high school seniors now enrolled in their second coherent sequence CTE course, that 13.3 percent would have risen to 50.6 percent, White said.

“There should not be an accountability system that is based on an interpretation on how data should be submitted, which is why this report should have never been submitted. It was a mistake that the legislature that was included in the bill that was passed,” White said. “It doesn’t take much to realize that students who are graduating Deer Park High School are well prepared when they leave us. That could be whether they go to college, some kind of trade school, military or whatever that might be.”

He said the state’s accountability system also measures a high school student’s college readiness in other questionable ways. On example he gave was the state weighing a student who takes one AP course the same as a student who takes 12 dual credit hours.

“How is 12 hours of dual credit equivalent of taking one AP course? How is having 12 hours of dual credit the equivalent of meeting a benchmark on a college entrance exam?” he asked.

To further his point, White showed the board examples of other school districts that have a documented reputation of being an underperforming district whose students do not improve year-to-year on accountability tests. These districts received higher grades in college readiness because of the way their CTE sequences were entered.

White also showed the same results for a school district with a regarded as one of the best in the state. Over a five-year period, it has a 99 percent graduation rate, a graduation plan rate of 97.5 percent, and 90 percent of its students take dual credit courses,” he said. “They have 84 percent AP enrollment. They have an average SAT score that’s almost 400 points above the state. They have an average ACT score that’s seven points above the state.

The school district’s CTE coherent sequence score was 14 percent, which gave it the same score as the other anonymous school district with the underperforming reputation.

“It’s not miscoding. It’s a different interpretation,” White said. “This is a system as it is set up now that is nutty. The original claim was this would be a simple, clear and transparent system.... That is not the case. It’s very irritating to me that the work that the work of the students and teacher of this district be represented in such a false manner.”

Trustee Rhonda Lowe called the report garbage and was aghast that the report was even formulated.

During the regular meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution condemning the A-F system; the program of studies for the 2017-18 school year; a resolution honoring Zane Gonzalez for winning the Lou Groza Award; the engagement of an external auditor; a budget amendment and a bid for furniture product and services.