By JACOB LOPEZ
San Benito CISD’s performance in the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests remains a source of concern as officials recently shared their thoughts on the matter.
In August, it was announced that 16 of the 17 SBCISD campuses met academic standard set by the state while Frank Roberts Elementary received a rating of ‘Improvement Required.’
San Benito schools earned a total of 28 distinctions out of a possible 103, or 27 percent.
Meanwhile, Los Fresnos earned 71 distinctions out of 85 (84 percent). Harlingen, another nearby school district, earned 70 out of 161, which is 43 percent.
Distinctions are part of the Texas Education Agency Accountability Rating System designed to measure public schools in the state of Texas’ levels of academic readiness based on seven possible distinctions: Academic Achievement in Reading/English Language Arts; Academic Achievement in Mathematics; Academic Achievement in Science; Academic Achievement in Social Studies; Top 25 Percent: Student Progress; Top 25 Percent: Closing Performance Gaps and Post Secondary Readiness.
Yliana González, SBCISD board member, stressed the need to make immediate improvements.
“My concern is not only the distinctions, but also each campus individually — their performance when it comes to the different content areas,” said González.
Pointing out Frank Roberts, González begged the question, “What is it that we’re needing to do to improve the success of that campus?”
González said that neighboring districts have campuses with “very, very similar demographics.”
She specifically questioned why nearby campuses can obtain success and Frank Roberts couldn’t meet standard.
“Are we not holding them [the principals] accountable? Are we not providing the resources that are necessary …? You know, what is it that’s lacking? That’s my concern.”
González said that the campuses do have master teachers, clarifying that this doesn’t necessarily mean teachers with a Master’s Degree, rather “teachers that are masters of their profession.”
She suggested that these teachers, and those who are seeing success with their students, can start developing ideas and strategies to other campuses.
“I’m not on the campuses on a daily basis, so it’s not something that I can attest to. I would venture to say that we’re not maximizing our staff and our resources to be able to obtain the desired results,” said González.
“It’s not about our district being better than anyone else’s, or vise-versa. It’s about making sure that all kids across every district are successful.”
SBCISD Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón acknowledged that there is room for improvement.
“Our open end-of-the year comment that I addressed to our teachers this year was that improving instruction is our theme,” said Limón.
“We had 28 distinctions, but we could to so much better,” Limón said. “So I completely agree with Ms. González. We can do better, and we will do better.”
However, Limón shared some positives, saying that San Benito schools did meet state average in some subjects, and managed to exceed state average in others. Most notable was Rangerville Elementary, which scored 15 points above state average.
Ed Downs Elementary scored 14 points above state average in Writing.
Meanwhile, San Benito High School managed 23 points above state average in Reading, 15 in Math and 17 in Science (though these scores do include re-testers).