Waco ISD Aims To Improve Student Performance - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Waco ISD Aims To Improve Student Performance

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It may be another challenging year for Waco ISD with nearly half of its schools falling short of minimum state standards.

Twelve of the district's 25 schools are on the Public Education Grant list released by the Texas Education Agency earlier this month.

TEA authorities say the number of schools on the annual list nearly doubled this year due to newer, higher standards.

Across the state, 892 schools are on the 2013 list, up from 456 in 2012.

Waco ISD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kim Ellis says the district is on a path to maintain consistency and focused on strengthening the plan already in place.

"We have seen good increases in our scores this year from our DBA's, our District Base-Assessments, as compared to what we did last year, so we feel like we're moving in the right direction," said Ellis.

District-Based Assessments are tests written by Waco ISD curriculum experts in English-Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and Math. These tests mirror the rigor, content, and length of the STAAR.

The DBA's were given in January 2013 prior to Spring 2013 STAAR testing. They were given again in December 2013 to give the district an indication of where its students are heading into this year's STAAR testing period.

According to Waco ISD officials, when comparing last year's DBA with this year's, a positive trend line occurs in 73% of the tests, with areas of significant growth in 5th grade English, 6th grade English, 6th grade Math, Freshman and Sophomore English, and Biology. As they continue to focus on the 27% not yet showing improvement, this gives them reason to believe the districts STAAR results will improve this year.

To be included in the PEG list, at least half of a school's students have to have failed the accountability tests in two of the three previous years or be rated academically unacceptable in 2011 or "Improvement Required" last year. Those are the lowest categories in the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test that was implemented in 2013.

There were no accountability ratings were given in 2012, however can remain up to three years in the list.

When a school is included in the list, its students are allowed to transfer to other campuses and even to different district. Schools receiving incoming students from PEG-list campuses receive 10 percent more funding for each of those students.

The new accountability system was implemented in August 2013, and focuses on overall student achievement and progress as well as how well schools help disadvantaged student groups close the performance gaps. It also measures the level of readiness schools give students for when they enter college or the work force.

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