HARLINGEN — The Harlingen and San Benito school districts did very well on a new state accountability system whose results were released Thursday.
The Texas Education Agency rated school districts on numerous criteria under two categories: Performance Index Summary and System Safeguards.
In the Performance Index Summary, the Harlingen school district exceeded requirements in the areas of student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness, according to the TEA.
The target score for student achievement is 50 — Harlingen scored 71. The target score for student progress is 21 — Harlingen scored 34.
The district also scored 69 in closing performance gaps, although the target score is 50. For postsecondary readiness, in which the target score is 75, Harlingen schools scored 86.
DeEtta Culbertson, a TEA spokesperson, said closing performance gaps refers to closing the gaps in scores between groups that perform well and those that don’t.
Culbertson said System Safeguards are targets that are set for each of the student groups to meet on either their performance by subject on testing or their participation rates. This category lists performance rates, participation rates, graduation rates and “Met Federal Limits on Alternative Assessments.”
Participation rates refer to how many students took required testing. The Harlingen district received 100 percent on this rating.
Culbertson said the “Met Federal Limits on Alternative Assessment” rating refers to the state’s efforts to align the new accountability system more with federal requirements. The district also received 100 percent in this area.
“Before we had the state accountability rating, and then we had our federal accountability ratings,” she said. “What we’re trying to show is that we’re working on meeting those limits.”
Harlan Howell, director of research and evaluation/computer services for the Harlingen district, said there were 63 indicators the district was expected to meet.
“Of those 63, our district met 53 targets (84 percent),” Howell said. “At this time, federal accountability guidelines are not determined due to the state filing a waiver and is currently waiting for a response. Once the response has been received from federal accountability, it will be up to TEA’s performance monitoring prevention to notify districts regarding their status. For now, the data is useful to show us areas for needed improvement.”
The district showed a high graduation rate of five out of six, score 83 percent. Its performance rating was 31 out of a possible 40 for a score of 78 percent.
In San Benito, the school district’s 17 campuses met the state’s new standards, the report shows.
Four schools were recognized for high marks in reading, including Berta Cabaza Middle School, Fred Booth Elementary, Rangerville Elementary and Sullivan Elementary.
Three schools were cited for strong performances in math, including Veterans Memorial Academy, Ed Downs Elementary and Landrum Elementary.
“We did very well,” said Ruben Franco, the district’s planner-evaluator. “I’m glad all our campuses met the standard in a much more rigorous assessment.”
Franco said the district will focus on such programs as tutorials to help boost student test scores.
“Trying to get every single student to succeed is the goal of every district,” Franco said.
More than 92 percent of districts and nearly 85 percent of Texas schools meet the state’s minimum education standards and many earned distinctions, the TEA said Thursday in releasing ratings using the new accountability system.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams scrapped the old system that relied on standardized test scores. The new accountability system uses test scores, graduation rates and college admission exams to calculate indexes for student achievement, student progress, student readiness for college or work and how well a school is helping disadvantaged children.
Forty-two percent of the state’s schools won recognition for student progress, mathematics or English. The agency said 778 schools and 80 districts require improvement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.