Principal: “No Apologies” for Meetings on TAKS Scores

Administrator discusses testing with black students at Grand Prairie High

The principal of Grand Prairie High School is getting heat for meetings he held with black students about their poor test scores.

Some students complained to the Dallas Morning News about Principal Joseph Showell's meetings, when he challenged them to do better on their TAKS exams.

The meetings were also discussed Wednesday on radio talk shows. Some callers believed the meetings unfairly singled out black students.

"They understand the principal's objective of trying to make the students do better, but the methodology is what's being questioned," host Robert Ashley said.

Showell, who is black, became principal of Grand Prairie High School in June 2007. He met with two groups of about 30 black students to address low TAKS scores in 2008.

The state tracks test results among individual ethnic groups.

The black student subgroup's performance in math and science dragged down Grand Prairie High's rating in 2006 and 2007, the Dallas Morning News reported. The school was rated academically unacceptable in those years as a result, the newspaper reported.

"That was the group that caused us to be academically unacceptable, so what we had to do was come up with strategies that were unique to that subgroup," Stowell said.

He says the meetings were intended to inform the students about the state testing program and how their scores affect the school. 

"Kids have to understand how they're going to be looked at," Showell said. "So there's no apologies."

Grand Prairie NAACP President Angela Luckey, who has volunteered at the high school, said she supports Showell.

"He's going what a good principal would do when they're trying to set high standards for all students to achieve," she said.

Luckey and Showell said meetings have also been held with students of other ethnic groups to promote academic improvement. 

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