WFISD board pushing for more students to meet state standards

Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Right now in Wichita Falls, 34-percent of third grade readers are meeting state level standards and the district had an initial goal of getting to 46-percent by 2024. Texas-wide, 45-percent of third graders are meeting state standards for reading.

The Wichita Falls ISD school board wants to see its district at 75-percent, but as Superintendent Michael Kuhrt explained, with no state data from the past year, that’s jump isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“We don’t have a lot of data from last year because we didn’t take tests last year,” he said, “so all of our data is older data, except for new assessments we’ve given this year.”

The district advisory committee (DAC) met in April of this year and decided to address the goals more conservatively. Members voted to raise expectations by three-percent each year given the uncertainty COVID-19 has caused. That puts a goal of 46-percent of third graders meeting state standards by 2024.

Board members argued on Monday night those expectations should be raised higher.

“I think it is just critical that our students come out of our ISD with the tools, and the resources, they’ve just got to come out this better prepared,” board member Katherine McGregor said.

When it comes to tracking accountability, however, “none of accountability is easy,” Superintendent Kuhrt said, “it’s just not an easy answer.”

Superintendent Kuhrt said to begin with, the format of the test doesn’t make it easy for students.

“This is taking a test that somebody set a standard, and currently only 45-percent of all students in Texas are meeting that standard,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean these students aren’t reading,” board president Elizabeth Yeager added, “it means they didn’t do well on a test.”

He added the tests aren’t graded on a hundred-point-scale, meaning 45-percent doesn’t necessarily mean failing.

“So if we have 45-percent of our students performing at the ‘meets’ level, and 20-something-percent performing at the ‘masters’ level, we would be doing pretty well as a district,” he said.

Superintendent Kuhrt said at the lower grade levels already new guidelines are being put in place to try and help raise scores over the next few years.

The DAC will take the school board’s recommendations at its next meeting and have them ready to present and be voted upon by December.

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