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State Report Cards Out For San Antonio Schools

Most San Antonio school districts and charter networks received the same score or better on this year’s state academic accountability ratings compared to last year, reducing the risk of facing sanctions.

The San Antonio Independent School District went from a C to a B rating, as did Judson, Harlandale and Southwest ISD.

San Antonio’s two largest school districts, Northside and North East, received B’s for the second year in a row.

Last year was the first year the Texas Education Agency rated districts using an A through F score instead of pass/fail. It was also the first year mandatory sanctions went into effect for failing schools, forcing the closure of SAISD’s Rodriguez Elementary.

The new system is controversial, both because of the potential for stiff consequences and because of its continued reliance on standardized tests.

Reliance on Tests

Some points at the high school and district level are awarded for graduation rates and college and career readiness, but the ratings are based primarily on the highest of three possible scores: 

  • Student Achievement (How well students performed on the State Assessments of Academic Readiness)
  • Academic Growth (How well students performed on the STAAR test this year compared to the year before)
  • Relative Performance (How well schools did on the STAAR compared to similar schools) 

                                Scroll Down for a Searchable List of San Antonio Ratings

A large body of research shows that the first possible score, based on achievement, is highly correlated with poverty. That’s part of the reason many educator groups, including the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas State Teachers Association, oppose the rating system, calling it “misleading” and “incomplete.”

But because of the possibility of being rated on other scores, state officials said last year that the system is the “fairest ever.” Researchers have found no correlation between poverty and the second possible score based on academic growth.

However, a TPR analysis of 2018 campus ratings still found most schools that failed state standards served predominantly low-income students. In San Antonio, almost 80% of the schools that failed served at least 80% economically disadvantaged students.

Risk of Sanctions

Two small charter networks in San Antonio, Por Vida Academy and Bexar County Academy, moved from an F to a D, removing the immediate risk of state sanctions. Under the state’s three strikes rule for charter schools, charter networks can lose their charters and be shut down if they fail again in 2020.

While San Antonio ISD earned a B, one of the district’s campuses, Ogden Academy, failed for a sixth year. If Ogden doesn’t earn a higher score next year, the Texas Education Agency will be required to either close the campus or replace the district’s elected school board with an appointed board. Ordinarily Ogden would have faced those sanctions in 2018, when it failed for the fifth year, but state law gives districts that partner with outside organizations a two-year reprieve from those consequences.

SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez said the district will be working closely with Ogden’s partner, a nonprofit affiliated with Relay Graduate School, to make sure it improves.

“I’m going to have my accountability team — basically (they) will be their best friends, and we will be getting regular updates on their progress. (Relay has) also done a big reflection about what things to change there,” Martinez said.

Patti Radle, the president of SAISD’s board of trustees, said she and the superintendent want to make sure no other campus is closed the way Rodriguez Elementary was last year.

“We learned a whole lot with the closing of Rodriguez, seeing how it affected the families, and the stress for the families,” Radle said. “So I think it’s our challenge as a district to clarify to the state the true consequences of closing a school. That there needs to be another way.”

Loss of Accreditation Narrowly Averted

Natalia ISD 20 miles southwest of San Antonio shot up 20 points to earn a C this year after three years of failing state standards. That removes the risk that the small district of about 1,000 students could be dissolved into a neighboring district. Natalia was placed under accredited-probation status last year, signaling that significant change was needed to avoid losing accreditation and being annexed.

Natalia Superintendent Hensley Cone said the rating lets teachers start the new school year with a sense of relief and pride.

“Our teachers are proud of their achievements, proud of their kids, proud of themselves,” Cone said. “It is a good feeling going into a new school year. Almost like a new sun coming up to a new year in that we are moving positively in the right direction with great improvements.”

D’s Now ‘Unacceptable’

Edgewood and South San ISD, which are home to some of the poorest neighborhoods in San Antonio, both were rated D in 2018. Both were rated C this year, protecting them from a new rule passed this summer that considers a D “unacceptable” the second year a campus or district receives it. Under that rule D’s place schools at the same risk of sanctions as an F district or campus.

Two charter networks with schools in San Antonio also received D’s for a second time this year: Positive Solutions Charter School and Texas Can Academies.

Made with Flourish

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org, on Instagram at camille.m.phillips and on Twitter at @cmpcamille. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.