VHS receives several distinctions in new TEA rating system

By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

In the state’s new accountability ranking system, Vandegrift High School received special academic distinction in four categories: Top 25 percent Closing Performance Gap, Postsecondary Readiness, Academic Achievement in Math, and Academic Achievement in Science.

downloadTo receive a distinction, a school must score in the top 25 percent of its comparison group – each comparison group is made up of 40 schools from across the state with similar demographics. The top 25 percent schools are known as quartile 1, or Q1. VHS principal Charlie Little said VHS’s comparison group makes up some of the top public schools in the state.

“I am extremely proud of our staff and students for their exceptional performance this year,” said Little.  “We are excited and welcome the chance to be ranked and compared to the 40 of the best high schools in Texas. The use of the comparison group for accountability requires us to be savvy with our data review. Sometimes, it is only a fraction of a percentage point that separates a Quartile 4 from a Quartile 1 ranking.”

Previously, schools were rated by the Texas Education Agency as either academically acceptable, academically unacceptable, recognized or exemplary based on their TAKS scores. Now schools are rated as either “met standards” or “improvement required.” The new rating system gives more detailed data on areas such as attendance and college readiness. Each academic distinction is based on seven scored indicators.

“This new accountability looks at the bigger picture and with more depth, so I like that,” said Little. “But it’s very confusing.”

Little said it can be confusing for parents when they see that a school elsewhere received a special distinction while their child’s school did not; however, the other school may be in a less competitive comparison group. He said parents have to look at the data carefully because even a school that ranked in Q4 of a certain category may still have higher scores than the state average.

He said the distinctions for the relatively new school, which opened in 2009, are a testament to its excellent teachers.

“The fact that we received ‘Top 25 Percent Closing Performance Gap’ distinction in Q1 of our comparison group demonstrates the effectiveness, skill and passion that our teachers bring to making sure that every student is successful,” Little said.

He said he also wants to thank the Hill Country Education Foundation and the community for supporting VHS.

“Their unwavering support for our math, science and engineering programs has really helped us achieve our goals,” he said. “HCEF funds programs like our Robotics program, Academic UIL teams, and our PSAT boot camp that have had a direct correlation to our success on accountability indicators in College and Career Readiness that resulted in VHS being recognized as a “Campus of Distinction” by TEA in math, science and post-secondary readiness.”

To view the 2014 state accountability ratings for districts, charters and campuses (plus distinction designations earned at the campus and district level), visit the Texas Education Agency website athttp://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/account/2014/index.html.