San Marcos elementary school receives ‘unacceptable’ rating

News Reporter

Photo by: 

The Texas Education Agency’s accountablity ratings based on state-wide standardized tests deemed DeZavala Elementary School, part of the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District, academically unacceptable Aug. 8.

DeZavala did not meet the standards based on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test, which include student achievement, progress and closing performance gaps. DeZavala is the only school in the SMCISD that requires improvement. It was one of 6.5 percent of schools in the state that did not meet the test’s standards, according to the report.

Debbie Ratcliffe, Texas Education Agency director of media relations, said one school in a district not meeting the state standard casts a spotlight on the particular school. However, Ratcliffe said negative light from one school could affect a district and how the public sees the schools and judges their effectiveness.

Greg Rodriguez, SMCISD director of accountability and school improvement, said DeZavala was two points shy of meeting the required 30-point score on the index. The index measures student progress in reading, math and writing from one year to the next.

DeZavala Principal Dolores Cruz said the only thing that differentiates the school from others in San Marcos is the high population of English language learners and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. However, Cruz said she does not see this as an excuse not to meet state standards, and the school will put new plans into place to meet them next year.

Rodriguez said SMCISD will be working closely with the campus and the TEA to address student progress. An improvement plan will be made and implemented, and more resources will be allocated to helping DeZavala.

Cruz said the school is working toward meeting state standards by having professional development meetings with staff, finding the gaps in learning and working on closing them. She said the focus is on getting students engaged in class, doing more hands-on group projects and making students more accountable for their work.

Parents are aware of the ratings and have questions and concerns, but the administration has been making gains and just fell short on this year’s assessment, Cruz said.

Rodriguez said as a parent, he would not judge his child’s school based on one score but would instead focus on the school’s climate and parent involvement. Parents can continue to work with their children at home and outside of school, he said.

Rodriguez said there will be no impact on San Marcos or the school district based on this assessment, and the school’s incentive is to improve the education of each student. Improvement is defined as becoming academically acceptable and better preparing students, he said.

Rodriguez said if DeZavala does not meet state standards again next year, there are no repercussions, but the school will continue with the improvement plan and oversight from the TEA. Rodriguez said he does not anticipate DeZavala being academically unacceptable next year.

Ratcliffe said if a school does not meet standards for several years in a row, state law allows it to be reconstituted or all teachers to be replaced. In the worst-case scenario, the school could be completely shut down, Rodriguez said.

All five other elementary schools in the city met the standards, as well as the two middle schools and San Marcos High School, according to the report. The Hays County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program was not rated. The school district met state standards overall on all indexes.