Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

July 22, 2013

AISD concerned over STAAR scores

Assistant superintendent says plans already in works to improve academic achievement

Athens — Athens school board trustees and administrators expressed concern Thursday during a discussion of preliminary state standardized testing scores that have been released for the district.

Athens students scored below the regional average in 19 of 26 subjects spanning each grade level from third grade through high school on the State Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test.

Students scored above the regional average in only two areas — fifth-grade math at Athens Intermediate School (88 percent, compared to a regional average of 86 percent) and eighth-grade math at Athens Middle School (92 percent, compared to a regional average of 88 percent).

Regional comparisons were not available in five subjects.

Athens student scores were within one percent of the regional average in U.S. History at the high school and fifth-grade reading at Athens Intermediate School.

Students at the high school and middle school level were the most behind the regional averages. Among the categories in which they were deficient, Athens High School was an average of 11.1 percent behind the regional average — with the biggest differentials coming in Algebra I and English II Writing, where Athens students scored 16 percent lower than the regional average.

At the middle school, Athens students were an average of 9.8 percent behind the regional average, including 15 percent behind in sixth-grade math.

The news comes in the midst of the district’s efforts to work its way out of Stage 2 of the Adequate Yearly Progress program — a federal system which gauges student performance. AISD was placed in Stage 2 of AYP because several subgroups — African-Americans, Hispanics, special education students and students who speak limited English — did not meet federally-mandated testing progress in either math or science for at least two years.

“I am just freaked out,” Trustee Steve McElhany said of the preliminary scores released Thursday. “Obviously what we have been doing is not working. I don’t want to see numbers like these years from now.”

Assistant Superintendent Janie Sims said student performance has been affected at Athens ISD over the last couple of years by turnover at the campus and administration levels and the implementation of the CSCOPE districtwide curriculum.

Sims said scores tend to dip anytime a new curriculum is introduced, but added that the scores indicate the district must focus on the level of rigor in the classroom.

“The scores are not what we are accustomed to seeing in Athens ISD, and the district will immediately begin a process of analysis, review and development of individual school goals, as well as district-wide goals,” Sims said. “The scores will be used as a baseline to analyze and implement a plan of action to address the deficits.”

Sims said steps are already being taken to improve student performance. The district has recently hired a coordinator of elementary curriculum and instruction and a coordinator of secondary curriculum and instruction. Those educators will assist principals and leadership teams in planning, implementing and monitoring student academic progress.

She also said the district will provide training to all teachers of core subjects “from one of the leading consultants in the state.” Teachers will receive training in targeted instructional techniques and in the follow-up that is necessary to monitor student success.

Sims said stability in the superintendent’s office should help in terms of leadership and guidance as the district works to correct a number of academic deficiencies. Superintendent Blake Stiles will begin his first full year in the post after taking over as interim superintendent for Dr. Robert Steeber last October. Stiles officially replaced Steeber and the interim title was removed last November.

Stiles is the third superintendent AISD has had since the 2010-11 school year.

Trustee David Freeman indicated some of the problems with test scores may not be school-related.

“I believe this may be a problem of parental guidance,” he said. “There may be parents that are doing the children’s work for them when they bring home work.”

Sims said the academic achievement scores are just “one of four indices” for which all school districts will be held accountable by the state — which also includes student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and post-secondary readiness. Three of these measures are new to the state accountability system.

Results will be combined to rate each campus and district. These official results will not be provided to school districts until August.

The percentage of those who passed the STAAR tests are as follows.  Under each school listed is the grade level, the subject, the percentage that passed from AISD, and then the percentage that passed from the Region 7 in which AISD is located, where information was available.

Text Only
Local News
  • 2726192_300x300.jpg Darin Karl found Thursday on Cedar Creek Lake

    The body of a 42-year-old man who had been missing in Cedar Creek Lake was recovered on Thursday.
    The drowning victim was identified as Darin Lynn Karl of Kemp. According to Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt, Karl and his nephew were fishing near Cedar Creek Country Club when the boat overturned, ejecting the men. 

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif AISD approves moving monthly meeting, additional drug testing

    Discussion on meal prices for the 2014-15 school year was pulled from Thursday's Athens Independent School District Board of Trustees agenda but other items were approved that will bring about change in the district.
    By unanimous decision, the school board approved changes to the scheduled date for its monthly meetings; additional drug testing on the high school campus and modification to the graduation policy.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 drugs.tif Prescription Drug Take Back Day April 26

    On Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Athens Police Department and Keep Athens Beautiful will host the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, giving the public its seventh opportunity in four years to prevent pill abuse and theft.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • ADR logo.tif Feud between Tool VFDs extends to city council

    The two volunteer fire departments in Tool have been dueling for 11 years. The feud between the two departments started in 2003, when the citizens of Tool voted to establish Emergency Service District No. 4. According to reports, this was about the same time the Tool Volunteer Fire Department was established.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Would Lake Athens residents suffer if city controls water?

    Members of Lake Athens Property Owners Association have been watching the dispute between the City of Athens and the Athens Municipal Water Authority uncertain of how this will affect their future.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Hot issue

    The two volunteer fire departments in Tool have been dueling for 11 years. The feud between the two departments started in 2003, when the citizens of Tool voted to establish Emergency Service District No. 4. According to reports, this was about the same time the Tool Volunteer Fire Department was established.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Surplus property to be moved or demolished

    Athens Independent School District purchased property at 404 Royall Street during its March school board meeting with the intent to square off property previously purchased by the district.
    During Thursday's school board meeting, a unanimous decision was made to designate the property as surplus and advertise the home to be moved or demolished.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0077.JPG Taste of Home Cooking School

    The Taste of Home Cooking School was held Thursday at the Cain Center. Hundreds attended the events that was sponsored by Cole A/C and the Athens Daily Review.

    April 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • ADR logo.tif City, AMWA differ on future management of water supply

    The 57-year relationship between the Athens Municipal Water Authority and the City of Athens grew stormy in 2013 because of a disagreement over who should pay certain bills.
    The difference-of-opinion led to the Authority filing suit against the city last December, and the city responding by setting the wheels in motion that slated a May 10 election to decide whether to abolish AMWA.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 Easter.jpg Excited and ready

    Lexie and Isabella Hawkins are excited and ready for the Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at 9 a.m. in Kiwanis Park.  Bicycles, rabbits and lots of Easter Eggs will be waiting for you. Everyone is welcome, and of course the Easter Bunny will be there.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo