“Exemplary” Schools Multiply Under Projected Measurement System

I project I will be president in the future. Can we go ahead and call me president now?

Texas school rankings came out recently, and outcomes were mixed. Several schools affected a turn-around, while the overall state of Texas showed the worst ratings of all time, with 87 qualifying as "unacceptable."

Many wonder how such abysmal results came about with the newly instated - and much debated - "Texas Projection Measure," a system many thought would precipitate a much better image for Texas schools.

The Texas Projection Measure (TPM), passed in January of this year, projects whether a student is likely to pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), rather than just recording their actual score. In other words, a failing grade no longer necessarily means "failing." The TPM has been decried by many as a disservice to students because it artificially inflates grades.

The Texas Projection Measure (TPM) is an estimate of whether a student is likely to pass the...tests at a future grade,” according to a TEA document.

The unsurprising part of the results was that, under the new measurement system, the number of exemplary school districts more than doubled, from 43 last year to 117 this year.

Most of those that ranked lower were a result of more stringent drop out rules. Forty-eight of the unacceptable districts received the designation because of drop-out rates.

However, the Grand Prairie School District most notably affected a turn-around, coinciding with the installment of a new superintendent, Dr. Susan Simpson, too closely to ignore.  A 24-year education veteran, Simpson was winner of the Texas Superintendent of the Year in 2005 at her previous district in White Settlement ISD.

GPISD has doubled the number of high performing campuses in 2008-2009 with 24 of 37 schools in the high performing range.

Reading scores in the district went up from 84 in 2007, to 95 in 2009. Math rose from 69 in 2007 to 86, and science from 54 in 2007 to 77 now (well, an improvement at least).

Plano ISD came out looking brilliantly as well, with 19 schools ranked "exemplary" and six "recognized." Many of their schools improved over last year, though they traditionally perform up to par.

Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

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