In late December — after public schools closed early all over Texas for the holidays — the Texas Education Agency released dismal findings as the TEA marked 1,199 campuses in the state as low performing schools. They cited the poor test scores or low ratings on the 2015-16 Public Education Grant list as reasons, and reported that 736,000 students attend failing schools.
According to local news, the total number of schools on this 2015-16 PEG list increased immensely from last year.
As the state does not provide any transportation funds, many eligible students are not able to transfer from these failing schools.
TEA Director of Communications Debbie Ratcliffe said in an interview with the Dallas Morning News that transportation funds could change the situation:
“The lack of transportation has always taken the transfer option off the table for some families.”
1,694 students from the PEG schools transferred to other campuses last year. Schools are listed on the PEG list when over 50% of their students fail in the annual State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness in 2 of the last 3 years. According to TEA, another reason is when the schools are rated “Improvement Required” in the state accountability ratings.
Ratcliffe said that the STAAR results were low again this year. He said that the adjustment period for the revised curriculum standards could be the reason for the high number of schools on the list. The Legislature will review the PEG program in January 2015. This session opens the door for topic of choice.
The PEG program might be a way to maintain choice in the public school framework by shifting to another school, or area district, without leaving the system.
The list led to some controversy when some superintendents claimed that the list is not an accurate measure for success. 6 campuses in Longview and more than 12 across East Texas ranked as the poorest-performing schools in Texas and the South East Texas School Chiefs thought the list is unfair.
Because of low test scores and some other reasons, Bramlette Elementary, Johnson-McQueen Elementary, Ware Elementary, Forest Park Middle School, Judson Middle School and Pine Tree Intermediate School made TEA’s list of 1,199 campuses.
Adam Holland, a Longview ISD spokesman, said:
“This is just one of many lists that include the same old information. I say ‘old’ because it takes three years to be unlisted. Ware Elementary, for example, is still on the list, yet it received a (TEA) distinction just a few months ago. We are quite aware of our shortcomings, and we are (and have been) addressing them. But this list is hardly breaking news.”
If a campus is placed on the PEG list, it will remains on it for next 3 years. Several superintendents thought this distorts the real picture of what is really happening in school districts.
Brian Gray, Union Grove ISD Superintendent, said, “It’s not an accurate representation of what is happening in Union Grove schools. Our scores and our accountability ratings are in great standing, but we’re stuck on the list for two more years.”