Coahoma, Forsan schools earn passing marks

Forsan Independent School District campuses received the highest academic ratings in Howard County, according to accountability figures released by the Texas Education Agency Friday.For the third consecutive year, Elbow Elementary received TEA’s highest rating of “Exemplary,” while the junior high/high school campus’ rating was one step down at “Recognized.” District-wide, Forsan ISD was rated Recognized, as well.Those were the same ratings as the districts and campuses received the previous year.FISD Superintendent Randy Johnson said the ratings, which were achieved despite increased passing standards established by TEA, were a credit to the district’s teachers, students and parents.“Sometimes, ‘staying the same’ means you stayed the same, but other times, ‘staying the same’ means you actually moved up,” Johnson said. “That was the case for us this year, because the standards went up.“This was the result of some really hard-working teachers and students, as well as parents who are willing to be involved with their children’s education,” he added. “I really appreciate the involvement of the entire community in that process. We continue to look for ways to improve our curriculum and prepare for the next round of state testing.”Coahoma ISD received TEA ratings of Academically Acceptable at the district level and at all three campuses. In 2010, the district, high school and junior high were rated as Recognized, while the elementary campus received an Exemplary rating.CISD Superintendent Randy Brown said the district’s ratings were downgraded despite improved student performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).“Here’s the crazy thing,” Brown said. “When you look at the scores, we made significant improvement. It’s not going to make a lot of sense to people when they see our ratings declined, but that’s what happened.”One reason for the rating decline, Brown explained, was the elimination of the Texas Projection Measurement (TPM) system as a way to evaluate TEA ratings. Under TPM, if a student failed a portion of the TAKS but showed subsequent academic improvement, the district could predict that student’s future passage of the TAKS and that prediction would be reflected in the rating.“What happened was TPM made such an impact (on past ratings) it was criticized by our legislators and the powers that be in the state education system,” Brown said. “I know the commissioner of education was under great pressure to change it.”Despite that pressure, Brown said he and other educators had received assurances last year that the TPM system would continue for at least one more year. But Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott announced the abolition of TPM in April, and Brown and other superintendents braced themselves for bad news.“We knew at Easter … that our ratings were going to go down,” he said.“My big problem with all this is if they were going to get rid of TPM, I wish they had never used it in the first place,” Brown added. “Here we are explaining to the public why our ratings are down, and all it looks like is we’re making excuses.”Despite the lower ratings, Brown expressed pride in the district’s students.“Our students out-performed students from across the state in most categories,” he said. “Now, is there room for improvement? Yes. Can we make improvements? Yes. Am I disappointed in the scores? No, because we improved.”Other area schools and their TEA ratings include:• Stanton ISD — The district and all campuses were rated Academically Acceptable.• Glasscock County ISD — The district and all campuses were rated Academically Acceptable.• Sands CISD — The district and campus were rated Recognized.• Grady ISD — The district and campus were rated Recognized.Contact Staff Writer Steve Reagan at 263-7331 ext. 235 or by e-mail at