“I won’t accept being unacceptable,” said Principal Charles Odom. “But I don't believe our test scores reflect the quality of students and staff we have here.”
Odom and Jessica Ruiz, director of curriculum, assessment and instruction, have taken several steps to improve instruction and monitoring.
“It’s not enough to be good,” Ruiz said. “We need to strive for greatness. I’m passionate about that.”
Ruiz is in her second year with the district, after taking her position from working at the La Pryor school district. She is a 1996 graduate of Three Rivers High School.
She said as a result of the rating, the school is working with an outside consultant. A school improvement team has been put together, which includes Odom, Ruiz and the consultant. A team of teachers is participating in the process.
The category that sunk the school was math, and it just missed being “acceptable” by a few points.
“The math teachers themselves are concerned,” Odom said. “They’ve been willing to do whatever they need to do in order to improve.”
The 2011 rating is based on results from the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills taken last spring. TAKS has been eliminated, and is being replaced by the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. Freshman will take STAAR this spring.
Because of the change in tests, there will be no accountability rating next year, which gives the school some breathing room. However, the STAAR is regarded as being a much more difficult test.
With this year’s freshman class, students will have to pass the STAAR to graduate. Ruiz said the test has a higher “level of rigor” than the TAKS.
“It assesses students at a deeper level on fewer things,” she said.
One factor Odom and Ruiz said led to the “unacceptable” accountability rating was turnover in the principal’s position at the high school.
“There was a concern because there was a lack on consistent campus administration,” Ruiz said.
In both the spring of 2010 and 2011, the campus was without a full-time prinicipal, as Kenneth Rohrbach became superintendent and his replacement did not last past February.
Rohrbach is pleased with the progress the high school is making.
“We’ve put a lot of things in place to help get those kids through these assessments,” he said.
Ruiz said she has been working to “vertically align” the curriculum, so that students are better able to build on what they’ve learned in the previous years.
The district has also started using a curriculum program that give teachers valuable guidance on specific topics in each subject.
Odom and Ruiz are confident their efforts, and the commitment of the teachers and staff, will produce results.
“It’s a challenge,” Odom said. “In order to win, everybody has to be on the same page. It’s a continuous work in progress and you’re never satisfied with where you’re at.”