FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Fort Worth’s school district just received an unpleasant report card. After state-mandated TAKS tests, the district saw the number of schools deemed to be unacceptable quadruple.
The district says the schools are being given an unfair label since they did well before the state changed the way it grades the TAKS tests this year.
Under the old system, if a student failed the test the state triggered a special formula. If it was shown the student might pass the next year, the failing grade in the current year was bumped up to a passing grade. It was called the Texas Projection Measurement, or TPM. It was grading on a curve. And it was controversial.
“Even though the student may not have been able to pass it, they looked at a complicated formula that looked at whether in the future a student would be able to pass,” said Steven Poole with The United Educators Association. “And if that’s the case they gave the schools credit for last year.”
This year, that curve is gone. And guess what happened to test scores?
“As a result of the TPM being removed out of preliminary TAKS tests, our preliminary ratings for schools are not going to look as good as they have been,” said FWISD spokesman Clint Bond.
Last year, just five Fort Worth schools were unacceptable. This year the number of unacceptable schools is 22. And 18 schools narrowly avoided the unacceptable tag by using one-time state exemptions.
Now, Eastern Hills and Polytechnic High Schools and Meadowbrook Middle School have been rated unacceptable in consecutive years. In the past, Eastern Hills would likely have seen the most state-mandated intervention since it’s been rated unacceptable for five straight years. But no one is sure if the state’s old punishments will be enforced on those schools since the grading system changed.
“You had to bring in new staff,” said Bond of the state’s normal punitive measures. “You might have to bring in somebody who’s an outsider running your school. There were a whole variety of things that were possible, but we’re not sure if any of that will happen this year.”