Following a statewide trend, most schools in Tyler ISD met the academic standard in 2015 accountability ratings released Friday by the Texas Education Agency. All schools in other Smith County districts and charter schools met the standard.
Nine of the 27 Tyler ISD schools received an improvement required rating, including nearly half of the district's elementary schools. Those schools included Austin, Bonner, Douglas, Griffin, Jones, Orr, Peete and Ramey elementary schools and Dogan Middle School.
This was the third consecutive improvement required rating for Griffin, Douglas, Peete and Orr, which will mean increased state supervision of those schools.
The district is appealing the rating for Austin Elementary, because a group of students who passed the test was not counted because they hadn't been in the country long enough, TISD Superintendent Marty Crawford said.
"Student performance and accountability are a priority for the district," Crawford said, noting the district is committed to improving ratings at schools that didn't meet standards.
"We realize the community does not want improvement required campuses. I don't want them. The board doesn't want them, so we're very serious about eliminating those labels from those campuses," the superintendent said.
Several schools with an improvement required rating will have different leaders, programs and systems in the coming year, Crawford said. New principals will lead Griffin, Orr, Peete and Jones elementary schools and Dogan Middle School.
Peete, Orr and Griffin schools will be departmentalized along the lines of a secondary school, Crawford said, in citing examples of changes designed to bring about improvement.
Tyler ISD saw areas of improvement from last year, including Boulter Middle School and Dixie Elementary moving from needs improvement to met standards.
"We are making progress towards eliminating some of the gaps that we have," Crawford said.
There also were "some pockets of excellence," he said, including the fact that eight of the district's campuses earned one or more distinction designations.
Schools that met standards could qualify for special honors, called distinctions, in reading/English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, the top 25 percent in student progress, the top 25 percent in closing performance gaps and the top 25 percent in postsecondary readiness.
Robert E. Lee High School, Hogg Middle School, Clarkston and Rice elementary schools each earned two distinctions. Moore MST Magnet Middle School earned six distinctions, and Birdwell and Jack elementary schools earned four.
TEA considered four areas in determining a school or a district's accountability rating. Those are student achievement on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, student progress in subjects from year to year, closing performance gaps and graduation rates.
The ratings give parents, community members and taxpayers an overview of how their districts and campuses are doing at meeting student academic standards and that students are learning what they need to know, TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson said.
While the accountability ratings were favorable for Lindale ISD, whose campuses all met standards and earned a total of 14 distinctions, Superintendent Stan Surratt said they're just one measure of performance.
"They do not do the proper justice of showcasing the outstanding work and service done by our students and staff members every day," Surratt said. "We do so much more than just prepare students for testing."
Bullard ISD Superintendent Todd Schneider said the ratings give a standard for improvement, which the district did from last year, with the intermediate school coming off the improvement required list.
"All of our campuses in the district met standard and (showed) improvement performance throughout the district. We are proud of our students and our teachers," Schneider said.
However, he noted the system doesn't give a full picture of the district's performance.
"This is all based on one test in one day. There are a lot of great things going on in schools that is not in this accountability report," Schneider said.