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2009-08-13 digital edition

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2009-08-13 / Front Page

Lexington ISD earns "State Recognized Status" from TEA

The Texas Education Agency released its annual rating status for 1,235 school districts and charter operators and 8,322 schools last week. The Lexington Independent School District earned its first "Recognized" status since the state accountability system was created in 1994. Achievement of a Recognized rating requires meeting a performance standard of 75 percent or higher on TAKS tests for each subject and student group, achieving an 85 percent completion rate and an annual dropout rate of 2 percent or less. Lexington ISD was evaluated on 18 separate performance measures. The ultimate rating of the district is based only on the lowest of those measures. Of the 18 measures, twelve of them were in the Exemplary range requiring a 90% student achievement level on TAKS. The remaining six measures were all at the Recognized level. Each of the indicators represents a particular student group and subject tested or other factors of success such as College Readiness. Lexington's Student Completion rate was 92% on-time graduates, while the drop out rate was 0% last year.

Dr. Chuck Holt, Superintendent of LISD remarked "an extraordinary amount of effort has been required from teachers, staff and students to bring LISD to this level of success. We are proud of the hard work and dedication of these folks. The only real path to success for schools is high quality staff, a viable curriculum and the support they need to do their jobs." According to Holt, "Our school board has been extremely supportive in providing the things we need to make improvements and we appreciate them."

The total number of schools and districts that achieved a Recognized rating rose this year. The number of Recognized districts and charter holders increased from 329 in 2008 to 459 today. The total number of Recognized schools increased from 2,819 last year to 2,930 this year. Slightly more than one-third of the state's districts and campuses earned this rating. Recognized and Exemplary status ratings have been more difficult to achieve over the years since more student subgroups are measured now and the passing rate has gotten continually higher.

Increasing passing rates on state tests and a new growth measure also contributed to increases in the number of Exemplary schools and districts in the state's accountability ratings system. Tempering those factors was the high school completion rate, which represents the percentage of students graduating from high school in four years or continuing in high school for a fifth year. Although the completion rate increased to 88 percent from the previous year, 12 percent of the States' 2008 graduating class left school without receiving a diploma. They either dropped out of school or obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. High school completion rates and science test results caused the number of Academically Unacceptable districts and schools to increase as well this year. The number of Academically Unacceptable districts increased to its highest level since implementation of the accountability system in 1994. Schools and districts received the state's lowest rating if they failed to meet the criteria required for an Academically Acceptable rating. This year, 87 districts were rated Academically Unacceptable, compared to 32 last year. This is the highest number of Academically Unacceptable districts in the history of the Texas accountability system.

Ratings were also provided by TEA at the Campus Level. Lexington Elementary School received a Recognized rating, while the Middle and High Schools received Academically Acceptable Ratings. Holt commented, "We have the highest number of students scoring at the Commended Level on the TAKS test ever. While there are still subgroups of students we want to perform better, many of our classes have over 50% of students achieving the Commended status."

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