As a big proponent of meaningful accountability for Texas public schools, I was initially excited to see the headline in the June 7 issue of my New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung touting the performance of our local public campuses.

That excitement turned to concern as I noticed that the article featured a rating that is largely dependent on raw scores achieved on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test. 

The single most important determining factor of a student’s performance on ANY standardized test is the relative affluence of the test taker. 

As a result, ratings based on raw standardized test scores only serve to artificially elevate the most affluent schools while improperly denigrating the performance of some of our best teachers in less affluent schools.

Note the near one-to-one inverse correlation of the Children at Risk grade assigned to our CISD and NBISD schools and the percentage of economically disadvantaged students served by that campus.

Ratings like this only serve to reinforce the misconception that our best schools are those serving our most affluent students. This misconception hurts our students, teachers and ultimately our community. 

Hoffmann Lane Elementary is indeed now the best elementary school in CISD/NBISD but because of the academic progress their students achieve, not the raw scoring. 

In fact, until its recent conversion into a pre-K center, Lone Star Elementary in NBISD, serving a student population that is 86.8 percent economically disadvantaged, far and away achieved the highest degree of academic progress in their students.

The hero teachers in this Children at Risk analysis are those serving Kinder Ranch, Seele and Lamar Elementary Schools, Church Hill, Oak Run and Mountain Valley Middle Schools and Memorial Early College and Canyon High Schools. 

All achieved raw scores higher than would have been expected from their relative affluence.

For a better analysis of our schools check out the just released academic progress scores at txsmartschools.org. It takes some digging but these rankings are more reflective of the actual performance of our schools.

Thank you for your service to New Braunfels through your newspaper and your continued vigilance regarding the performance of our public schools.

Stephen Smith,

Former CISD trustee,

New Braunfels

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