Another way to check how your school measures up

Teachers and parents who want to see how their schools stack up have another alternative to the state’s TAKSheavy accountability system. The online newspaper, The Texas Tribune, in a story published today, uses more broadbased criteria initially considered by Children At Risk, a Houstonbased, nonprofit advocacy and research organization.

The rankings are based on the percentage of students who scored “commended” grades on the TAKS tests, not merely passing scores, and take into account other factors, including attendance rates, percentage of students who are economically disadvantaged and – at the high school level – SAT and ACT scores and percentage of students taking advanced courses.

You can go to the Tribune website (the link is below) and click on the profile and ranking for most of the schools – elementary, middle and high school – in the state. Profiles include the level of “commended” TAKS scores, campus enrollment, studentteacher ratio, average spending per student, the campus ethnic breakdown (compared to the state as a whole) and the percentage of students at each campus who are economically disadvantaged or have limited English proficiency.

I haven’t had time to take more than a cursory look at the rankings. But what I did see, after checking out a number of Austin area schools, seems to reaffirm what has been widely known for a long time. Family income is still a strong factor in student success. It is not the only factor, of course, but it is enough of a factor that many of the Tribune’s rankings were predictable, regardless of how many additional factors you toss in.

I may have missed a few, but the following Austinarea high schools ranked well on The Texas Tribune’s list of 1,018 high schools statewide, and, with a couple of exceptions, were very low on the poverty meter. Check their rankings and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in each:

Westwood (Round Rock ISD):
State ranking, 20th; economically disadvantaged students, 8.1 percent.

Westlake (Eanes ISD):
State ranking, 23rd; economically disadvantaged students, 2.6 percent.

Lake Travis (Lake Travis ISD):
State ranking, 63rd; economically disadvantaged students, 11.6 percent.

McNeil (Round Rock ISD):
State ranking, 64th; economically disadvantaged students, 13.4 percent.

Anderson (Austin ISD):
State ranking, 73rd; economically disadvantaged students, 20.5 percent.

Bowie (Austin ISD):
State ranking, 88th; economically disadvantaged students, 11.6 percent.

At the other end of the list, Austin ISD’s Reagan High School ranked 1,017 out of 1,018 Texas high schools. Its percentage of economically disadvantaged students is 83.6.

Here is a link to The Texas Tribune’s story:
http://www.texastribune.org/stories/2010/apr/26/schoolrankings/

Here is a link to the Children At Risk webside:
http://www.childrenatrisk.org/

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