BY ROBERT MORALES
CCAISD Trustees on Monday listened to a 25-minute presentation from Secondary Principal Kittie Gibson about the latest STAAR test scores, and the overall results tend to indicate that improvement is needed.
4th Grade Writing: 2013 â€“ 58%, 2014 â€“ 85%
8th Grade Science: 2013 â€“ 60%, 2014 â€“ 55%
U.S. History: 2014 â€“ 81%
“Itâ€™s great when you point those that are making progress,â€ said Trustee Lisa Cottrell. “Some of those numbers are high, and thatâ€™s encouraging, but it is quite alarming to me that we are below regional and state average [at almost every category], and thatâ€™s a real problem. I know that our staff is doing a great job, and I know that weâ€™re dealing with these changes from the state, but when we canâ€™t hit regional averages, itâ€™s quite alarming.â€
Ms. Cottrell also questioned why students are two years behind in a particular grade level.
“Do we not have retention anymore? When you have students that are two years behind, itâ€™s not even fair to that student to continue to push [him or her]. When you have a 5th grader now going into 6th grade, they canâ€™t even survive in the elementary grade level. I just donâ€™t know if itâ€™s fair.â€
Superintendent Marc Puig explained that the grades students receive in the classroom during the six weeksâ€™ periods are passing; however, the test scores reveal a different story.
“We have a disparity between what the students are earning on their tests, and what theyâ€™re earning in the classroom. The only grades where you hold anyone behind because of testing are the 5th and 8th grades. What we have to do is to ramp up the rigor [in the classroom] to the rigor of the test so that thereâ€™s more of an alignment between what you see on the test.â€
He said that it is “frustratingâ€ to see kids passing in the classroom, but at testing time, the students donâ€™t pass, or they perform lower than where they should.
“Somewhere weâ€™re missing,â€ responded Ms. Cottrell. “I know that our staff is doing a great job, but somewhere, either weâ€™re slacking a little bit in the classroom or weâ€™re giving too many opportunities to try and try again, but somewhere, weâ€™re missing it.â€
Mr. Puig said that the district will take time for the level of instruction to reach a level of the rigor of the tests.
“I think the biggest takeaway of this story is what Ms. Gibson mentioned,â€ said Mr. Puig. “Now, instead of â€˜youâ€™re a failure, Marc,â€™ you know what, you didnâ€™t make it, but you did grow a year. I think this is what we have to watch closely. When we get to the point that weâ€™re seeing too many zeroes in progress, then we have a problem.â€
Mr. Puig added that CCAISD students, in order to perform well, must have high-quality teachers at the helm every day. “We have to make sure weâ€™re providing the support, such as professional development, to address the new curriculum,â€ he said.
Trustee Sandy Urias said that overcrowding in the classroom should be considered a factor in the scores.
“A lot of these students were crammed in a room, and you expect the teachers to teach at a certain when students are at different levels. Sure you want students to be at one level so that the grades and the scoring can be what theyâ€™re supposed to be. This year alone, my 5th grader was stressed out because of the cramming of students at the junior high.â€
In other action, at the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Puig recognized Nancy Balcazar as Employee of the Year, and Alison Corrales as Secondary Teacher of the Year. Both were present to receive awards. Toni Turnbow, not present, was awarded Elementary Teacher of the Year.