The leaders of Belton and Temple schools dismissed a report from an education nonprofit ranking their campuses.
Children at Risk, a Houston-based organization, recently released its school rankings. The group ranks schools on an A to F scale, with pluses and minuses.
Only one school in Bell County earned an A: Lakewood Elementary in the Belton Independent School District. Seven Belton campuses earned Bs, four earned Cs, Chisholm Trail Elementary earned a D, and Southwest Elementary was ranked with an F.
“We don’t put weight in these ratings,” interim Belton ISD Superintendent Robin Battershell said, adding administrators do not use the Children at Risk data.
Kennedy-Powell Elementary School in Temple Independent School District was the highest scoring campus there, earning a B-. Three Temple campuses earned Cs and the remaining eight schools received Ds.
“With respect to state rankings, Temple ISD only considers the official state of Texas accountability system,” Superintendent Bobby Ott said.
There are differences between the official state accountability system and the Children at Risk rankings.
The foundations are the same: They measure students’ achievement, growth from year to year, and economically disadvantaged students’ performance. However, the Texas Education Agency weights the three metrics differently while also including other metrics, such as closing achievement gaps.
There are some glaring contrasts between the two ranking systems.
For example, Children at Risk gave three Temple schools — Western Hills Elementary, Raye-Allen Elementary and Hector P. Garcia Elementary — Ds while the state graded ranked them with Bs.
“The official state ratings show every Temple ISD campus meeting the state standards,” Ott said. “This disparity between official state results and unofficial data reports validate the inconsistency produced by using these rankings.”
Like its neighbor, all Belton ISD met state standards this year.
The education group ranked Belton ISD’s Chisholm Trail Elementary and Southwest Elementary a letter grade lower than the state. TEA gave Chisholm Trail Elementary a C while Children At Risk gave the school a D. Southwest Elementary earned a D from the state and an F from the private group.
“We analyze the TEA’s (Texas Academic Performance Report) and individual and campus testing results,” Battershell said. “Our goal is for every campus, teacher and student to demonstrate improvement every year. For some districts, campuses, and students, improvements are more challenging.”
The Belton school board last month approved improvement plans for its campuses.
Ott also stressed the importance of continuing to improve Temple schools.
“In the spirit of school improvement, each campus has a customized improvement plan to increase academic standing — whether it’s from a C to a B or a B to an A,” he said. “This has been, and will continue to be, our annual standard practice.”
Education goes beyond standardized tests, the Temple superintendent said.
“As a school district, we are responsible and accountable for the overall experience,” Ott said. “Therefore, unofficial rankings would be a distant second in driving our improvement efforts when compared with the local feedback of our parents, students and community members.”
Ott continued, saying, “These rankings would have minimal effect, if any, on (school districts) across the state. This is due to the fact that it is not recognized as the official evaluation of Texas public schools.”
CHILDREN AT RISK RANKINGS
Children at Risk, a Houston-based education nonprofit, recently released its rankings of Texas schools. The group’s rankings are based on students’ achievement, growth from year to year, and economically disadvantaged students’ performance. Here are the grades:
Kennedy-Powell Elementary: B-
Jefferson Elementary: C+
Temple High School: C
Bonham Middle School: C-
Western Hills Elementary: D+
Lamar Middle School: D+
Raye-Allen Elementary: D+
Travis Science Academy Middle School: D
Cater Elementary: D
Thornton Elementary: D
Hector P. Garcia Elementary: D
Scott Elementary: D-
Lakewood Elementary: A
Sparta Elementary: B+
Tarver Elementary: B+
Belton New Tech High School: B
North Belton Middle School: B
High Point Elementary: B-
Lake Belton Middle School: B-
Joe M. Pirtle Elementary: B-
Leon Heights Elementary: C+
Belton High School: C+
South Belton Middle School: C
Miller Heights Elementary: C-
Chisholm Trail Elementary: D
Southwest Elementary: F
Salado Junior High School: B
Salado High School: B-
Thomas Arnold Elementary: B-
Raymond Mays Middle School: B
Troy High School: B
Troy Elementary C+
Holland Elementary: B+
Holland High School: B
Rogers Middle School: B
Rogers High School: B-
Rogers Elementary: C
Academy Junior High: B
Academy Intermediate: B-
Academy High School: B-