Nonprofit Children at Risk releases 2016 rankings of Texas schools

June 7, 2016
Killeen Daily Herald

The nonprofit Children at Risk released its 2016 rankings of Texas elementary, middle and high school campuses Monday.

The rankings, which the organization has released for 11 years, serve as a guide for parents, educators and community members on the performance of local schools and spark dialogue on the quality of public education in the state.

Rankings are based on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness achievement, performance, growth and college readiness indicators, the organization said.

Topping the organization’s list of Central Texas high schools was Salado High School, which earned an “A,” and Lampasas High School, which received an “A-minus.”

“I am very proud of our students and teachers for earning Salado High School an ‘A’ rating by the Children at Risk organization,” said Michael Novotny, superintendent of Salado Independent School District. “This is certainly evidence of how well our students are doing academically. However, this is just one of the many awards that our high school and our district have recently received.”

Salado was one of 23 Texas high schools selected as a Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) Academy.

Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow, Rogers High School, Holland High School and Gateway College Preparatory School received a “B-plus.”

Belton High School earned a “B” and Gatesville High garnered a “B-minus.”

Troy High School, Academy High School and Priority Charter all received a “C-plus.”

Temple High School and Bartlett High received “D-plus” grades from the rankings.

Rockdale and Cameron high schools received “F” grades in the report.

Killeen ISD

Three out of four Killeen Independent School District high schools failed, according to the study.

Harker Heights high school fared the best, receiving a passing “C” grade and ranking 671 out of 1,159 high schools in Texas.

Ellison, Killeen and Shoemaker high schools received a “F” grade, with all three schools ranked among the 200 lowest ranking Texas high schools.

Belton ISD

Susan Kincannon, Belton Independent School District Superintendent, said she was pleased with the rankings of BISD campuses, but stressed other attributes of the district.

“We’re pleased that 12 of the 14 Belton ISD campuses rated by Children at Risk this year received either an A or a B, but there are limits to ranking schools based largely on standardized test results,” Kincannon said. “While significant, these tests are only one measure of students’ success. They capture how students performed on one test, on one day.

“As a district, we have a more holistic definition of success. That includes standardized test results but also what students achieve in their daily work, dual credit and Advanced Placement courses, academic competitions, our career and technical program, our athletics program, our fine arts program, and in service to our community,” Kincannon added.

Temple ISD

Temple ISD Superintendent Robin Battershell said the Children at Risk report “provides no surprising conclusions in light of the following facts. The report only confirms that there is a correlation between schools of poverty and poor test performance using the current accountability system. Based upon the Children at Risk Report’s own data, there is a direct correlation between high schools serving high percentages of economically disadvantaged students and poor test performance.”

Battershell said “this report only confirms the struggles of districts serving high-needs populations.”

“Several years ago, I did the same due diligence and found identical trends,” said Battershell, who came to Temple ISD from Salado. “Taking the 96 districts that scored an A-plus, 46 were either academies, charters or preps whereby the schools can select their student populations. Of the 96 schools, the average rate of students on free and reduced lunch was 10.2 percent.

“Of the 76 high schools scoring C-plus, the average free and reduced lunch rate was 34.9 (percent) with six being academies, charters or prep schools, and of the 174 high schools scoring F, the average free and reduced lunch rate was 71.4 (percent) with four being academies, charters or prep schools. Thus this report only confirms the struggles of districts serving high-needs populations.”

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